Easy 3-Day Holiday Cleanse

This easy cleanse can be done between the parties, feasts, and treats that define the holiday season. The cleanse is based on fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, and raw nuts – all prepared in a way to leave you feeling warm and nourished even on the coldest of winter days. Take a look at the menu plan below: you will have cooked fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, and soup for dinner. I also like to call this the “soup and salad cleanse.” After three easy days, you will feel light, refreshed, and ready for the next holiday party!

Time of Day Food Options Cleansing Benefits*
Upon Waking Warm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant to help neutralize toxins in the body.
Breakfast Steamed apples or pears and prunes. Top with cinnamon and raw walnuts or pecans. Prunes are high in fiber that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and prevents constipation. Prunes are also high in phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants.
Mid-morning Green tea or herbal tea with raw nuts and seeds Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the small intestine, liver, and lungs.Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fatty acids, vitamin E, protein, and minerals. Nuts are an excellent source of arginine, an amino acid that plays an important role in detoxification. Nuts keep blood sugars balanced.
Lunch Mixed greens salad topped with chopped vegetables, your choice of beans, and sunflower seeds. Make a dressing with olive oil or flax oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mixed greens are high in chlorophyll and vitamin K. Bitter greens like dandelion stimulate digestion and may improve liver function.Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which protects against the toxic effects of cancer-causing chemicals.
Mid-afternoon Raw vegetables or fruit Fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber to promote elimination, potassium to balance electrolytes, and antioxidant vitamins to neutralize toxins.
Dinner Your choice of soup (see suggested recipes below). If choosing a bean or lentil soup, serve with a steamed vegetable. Lentils are a good source of protein, fiber, and trace minerals. They promote healthy elimination and good blood sugar balance.Vegetables in the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale) contain compounds that increase detoxification enzymes and exert antioxidant effects.
Evening Cup of herbal tea with optional piece of fresh fruit. Numerous herbal teas are available. Many are specifically formulated for detoxification. Choose one that you enjoy!

Suggested soup recipes:

SAM_0720Choose any soup recipe that fits your fancy, but I most highly recommend bean, lentil, or vegetable soups. If you feel best eating meat, you can certainly do a homemade chicken and vegetable soup or beef stew. Here are three of my favorites:

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Curried Lentil Soup with Carrots

White Bean and Kale Soup


*The information on cleansing benefits of the foods is taken from The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND. 

Roasted Vegetable Soup

This soup can be entirely pureed or partly pureed with chunky vegetables. The paprika is the key ingredient to its amazing flavor. This is a recipe that I originally found in Vegetarian Times and have since modified it to fit my kitchen and my taste.

  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 lbs of tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large bell peppers, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 head brocolii, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Rub papery skin off garlic, and cut off top of head to expose garlic gloves. Place on square foil, drizzle with 1 Tbsp water, and wrap the foil.
  3. Toss vegetables with oil, salt, pepper and plenty of paprika in large bowl. Spread vegetables (including the wrapped garlic) on 2 baking sheets and roast 35-45 minutes, or until vegetables are browned and tender, stirring once. Cool 10 minutes.

Squeeze roasted garlic cloves into a blender, add ½ of roasted vegetables and 1 cup water. Blend until smooth, then transfer to large bowl or saucepan with the rest of the vegetables. Warm and add vinegar.

Curried Lentil Soup with Carrots

This warming soup can be made as a lentil dish to serve over rice, or as a simple soup. Adjust the cayenne to your taste. Top with a dollop of plain yogurt.

  • 1 ½ cup red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp cayenne
  1. Saute onions and carrots in oil.
  2. Add lentils, water, raisins, and curry. Bring to a boil. Then simmer partly covered for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and cayenne.

White Bean and Kale Soup

This soup can be made with either dry beans (that you cook from scratch) or canned beans. It is a filling meal on its own, providing an excellent source of protein and fiber.

  • 1 cup dry navy beans (or 2 large cans of navy beans and water or vegetable broth)
  • kombu (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black or white pepper
  1. Soak beans overnight.
  2. Rinse beans and cover with plenty of water. Add a stick of kombu (this is a sea vegetable that increases mineral content of the cooked beans; it is entirely optional). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 2 hours.
  3. When beans are almost fully cooked, sauté the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in a separate pan.  Add the sautéed vegetables, kale, and seasonings to the beans.  (If using canned beans, add them to the sautéed vegetables with water or vegetable broth at this point). Simmer for another 10 minutes until kale is wilted. Season to taste.

Kale is for Kids!

SAM_2845I have kids. I know that they do not always eat exactly what I want them to eat. In fact, they rarely eat exactly what I want them to eat.

But I also know that the food that they eat matters. And some foods matter more than others. Green leafy vegetables fall into that category. A little bit of kale (or chard, collards, or spinach) packs an intense nutrition punch. It is worth a bit of persistence and creativity to turn these into foods that our kids will eat.

Before I get into the ways we can present kale to our kids, let’s take a quick look at what amazing nutrition just 1 cup of raw kale provides.

According to NutritionData.com, 1 cup of chopped raw kale provides more than 100% of our daily value of vitamin C, more than 200% of our daily value of vitamin A, and more than 600% of our daily value of vitamin K. It also provides at least 10 different minerals and all of the B vitamins. Kale provides all of these things in a mere 33 calories.

So how do we get our kids to eat kale? I know that every child is different. Some will eat sautéed kale with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt. Others will reject a meatball if they identify even a speck of green in it. Try what you think might work for your kids. And if it doesn’t work at first, try and try again. It will be worth the effort.

Let’s start with the smoothie. If your child will accept a green smoothie, just throw some kale into the blender with plain yogurt, ground flax seeds, a banana and some orange juice. This is sweet and yummy! If your child refuses a green drink, add enough cherries or mixed berries to turn the same drink pink. Smoothies are not only for breakfast, but also for a great afternoon snack.

Another popular snack is kale chips. While my son loves the ones that are deep-fried in peanut oil (served at The Kitchen Next Door in Boulder, CO), I prefer to dehydrate or bake them. Wash and chop the kale, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 325° for 15-20 minutes.

The frittata is another great presentation for kale. Finely chop the kale, sauté it with some onions and garlic, add some beaten eggs and cheese, and bake in an oven-safe pan. The frittata can be a great way to serve any number of vegetables, but spinach and kale are favorites in our family.

If you are looking to hide the kale, try adding a quarter cup of pureed kale to your favorite meatball or meatloaf recipe. Pureed greens can also be mixed into your favorite spaghetti sauce.

SAM_3012If all else fails, make cake! I have to give credit to Weelicious for this idea. The Lunches cookbook has a recipe for “spinach cake muffins.” I substitute kale for spinach and adjust the recipe to make it gluten-free. For my version of kale muffins, I blend (in a blender) 1 cup packed kale, ½ cup applesauce, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil, 1/3 cup cane sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, and ½ tsp salt, and then mixed that with 1.5 cups of Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix. I bake in mini muffin tins at 350° for 12 minutes. The color is vibrant and the taste is great!

Once our kids are used to eating green, we can finely chop fresh kale and add it to salads, sandwiches, and soups. Ideally I want my kids to enjoy their greens the way I do: sautéed with olive oil, garlic, and salt. I continue to present this and some days they eat it. But until they will eat it every day, I will persevere in the creative presentation of one of the most nutritionally dense foods on our planet.

I hope that you will too!

Sweet Zucchini Treats

Today I found myself with a sick child on the couch, a gentle rain outside, and 4 enormous zucchinis that my husband had brought in from the garden. Naturally, I migrated to the kitchen. I could have made soup, salad, or any number of nutritious meals. But instead I used the ridiculous size of these squash as an excuse to just make treats!

The first recipe I credit to Chef Lynda at the Nutrition Therapy Institute. NTI has a Natural Food Chef training program for which I teach the classroom nutrients course.  Because I can never follow a recipe, I of course modified it. While the original recipe called for chopped nuts and dried fruit, I opted instead for shredded coconut.

These gluten-free muffins are absolutely delicious and packed with nutrition!

Coconut Zucchini Muffins


  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 large egs
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • ¼ cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°. Line mini muffin tins with baking cups. Combine the wet and dry ingredients separately. Combine the wet and dry and finally add the shredded coconut last. Bake in mini muffin tins for about 15 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 32 mini muffins.

Nutrition Facts: 4 mini muffins = 150 calories; 5.6g fat; 21g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 17g sugar; 5g protein.


The second recipe I chose to use up some garden zucchinis was one that was circulating on Facebook. It was a very low fat recipe that used only applesauce and bananas in place of oil and eggs. But it also used all-purpose white flour, which I intended to replace with a gluten-free flour blend. Based on past baking experience, and lacking a fear of fat, I decided to add an egg and some oil to the recipe.

These brownies come out moist, springy, and flavorful. They feel more like a light treat rather than a guilty indulgence. Although they do pack a dose of sugar, you can feel good that you are also getting a mouthful of veg!

SAM_2838Zucchini Brownies

  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 ½ cups finely shredded zucchini (I shredded it in the Vitamix with water and then drained thoroughly)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used Pamela’s brand Artisan Flour)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish. Mix first 6 ingredients (applesauce, banana, egg, oil, vanilla, and sugar) in a medium bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, add the zucchini. In a separate bowl combine the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Finally combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Bake 25 minutes.

Nutrition Facts: (24 servings) 1 brownie = 120 calories; 1.5g fat; 25.5g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 14g sugar; 2g protein.

Power Muffins

On my son’s first week of kindergarten, I realized that I needed some quick and appealing options for a protein-packed breakfast before school. When I asked him if he would rather have “kindergarten muffins” or “power muffins,” he chose the latter. And that is how this on-the-go breakfast was named.

SAM_2770This recipe was inspired by a student of mine. Her mother made muffins for her as a child that included everything she was supposed to eat for breakfast: eggs, bacon, leftover rice, and even orange juice.

You can use my version of this recipe as a template. It is adaptable to any number of modifications. Prep your fillings the night before, mix them up with eggs in the morning, and bake them for 15-20 minutes in muffin tins. If you don’t have time to sit, grab one or two on your way out the door. They are guaranteed to “power” you through until lunch!

Power Muffins

  • ¼ cup ground sausage
  • ¼ cup finely diced sautéed vegetables (I used garlic and red bell peppers)
  • ¼ cup cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup grated cheese
  • 6 eggs

Cook the sausage, vegetables, and quinoa in advance. Grate the cheese the night before. In the morning beat the eggs, mix all ingredients, and bake in muffin tins at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Makes 8 muffins.

Nutrition Facts: 1 muffin = 120 calories; 7.8g fat; 4g carbohydrate; 0.4g fiber; 0.4g sugar; 8g protein.