Try a 5-day salad detox.
Seemingly overnight, packaged juice cleanses and juice bars have turned into a multi-million dollar industry, and they are crazy popular despite a continual stream of reports that they don't actually "cleanse" your body. Our very own in-house nutrition expert, Samantha Cassetty, definitely thinks they're a bad choice.
So I say forget the expensive juice. Don't forgo solid food. If you want to get back on track, detox, and feel better, try what I do: a salad "cleanse." That's right. Eat real food that will actually nourish you and also make you feel healthier -- what a novel idea!
Tonight, I'm planning on starting my usual five-day "detox plan," which I whip out every time I'm feeling less than svelte (like after the holidays or a particularly lazy, Sopranos-marathon-and-pizza-fueled weekend on the couch). This plan doesn't require any hard-and-fast rules or a food scale. Instead, it is just five nights of salad for dinner -- salads loaded with all the fresh veggies I want, using a minimal number of calorie-dense, "processed" ingredients, and involving absolutely no calorie counting. It's a simple concept that's easier, cheaper, AND more enjoyable than any juice cleanse.
Related: Avoid These 7 Items at the Salad Bar
Here's how I'm planning to beat the bloat:
Dinner #1: Thinly sliced kale with thin slices of roasted pork tenderloin (a 1-lb. piece makes 4 servings), about 1/4 cup of roughly chopped pitted kalamata olives, thinly sliced radishes, and chopped roasted red peppers tossed with a couple of tablespoons of mustard-y caper vinaigrette.
Dinner #2: Thinly sliced fennel, orange segments, mixed greens, and 1/4 cup sliced pitted green olives tossed with a lemon-orange vinaigrette.
Dinner #3: Chopped romaine lettuce, rinsed and drained black beans (1 can makes 4 servings), grape tomatoes, and corn tossed with a dressing made by pureeing half a ripe avocado, lime juice, fresh cilantro, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper and topped off with about 1 cup of crushed baked tortilla chips.
Dinner #4: Thin rice vermicelli noodles (3 to 6 ounces should make 4 to 5 servings), sautéed ground chicken breast (again 1 pound should feed 4), shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, thinly sliced cabbage, mixed greens, and torn mint or cilantro leaves tossed with a dressing made with fish sauce, lime juice, a pinch of brown sugar, and finely minced garlic.
Dinner #5: Roasted zucchini, yellow squash, and broccoli tossed with mixed greens, lemon vinaigrette, rinsed and drained chickpeas (1 can should serve 4), and 3 Tbsp. chopped almonds
*All amounts above are for 1 serving.
Use these tips to build a satisfying salad:
Dressing: Stick to homemade vinaigrettes, which are so simple to make. A great, easy-to-remember ratio is 1 part acid to 1 part oil. You don't even need to measure it if you're using a glass jar or container. Just eyeball an equal measure of each, then add a squirt or two of Dijon mustard. Season it with some salt and pepper to your taste, put on the lid, and shake. Dress your greens with just enough dressing to flavor them without drowning them. Experiment with different citrus juices, vinegars, flavored salts, and mustards, even a little honey or pinch of sugar is okay. I love using a combo of citrus juices and vinegar for more complex-tasting vinaigrettes. You can also use your blender to make bigger batches of vinaigrette involving ingredients you'd normally have to chop like herbs, peppers, or capers. Tightly sealed, the dressing will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Proteins: Incorporate a lean protein like white poultry, seafood, tofu, beans, or pork tenderloin. These proteins will help fill you up and, psychologically, help you feel like you had a proper dinner.
Colorful veggies: Make sure the dressings and veggies you use are flavorful and bright. This seems obvious, but it has to be said: The tastier the salad, the happier you will be eating it and the more satisfied you'll feel. The happier and more satisfied you feel, the more likely you'll be able to stick with it for 4 more nights (and beyond!). I also boost flavor by adding ingredients like chipotles, grated citrus zest, fresh chile peppers, hot sauce, miso paste, or two handfuls of whole leaves of fresh soft herbs, like basil, dill, cilantro, or parsley.
Clean out the fridge: Use it as an opportunity to clear out your fridge or shop your own pantry. Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads are a great way to use up your (healthier) holiday leftovers like the fresh herbs, veggies from a crudité platter or cocktail shrimp. Dive into pantry staples like canned beans and frozen veggies. By the time you're done culling through what's already in your kitchen, you'll probably only have to grab 2 or 3 things from the market.
Boost your veggie flavor: Try roasting some of your veggies and/or protein before tossing them with the greens. Sprayed with a few spritzes of oil, they'll be loads more flavorful and satisfying than if they're just steamed. Plus, it's quick and easy. Many vegetables take about 15 to 20 minutes in a 450F oven and if you cover your pan with foil, there's almost zero clean-up. There may even be veggies you can't stand raw that are amazing when roasted, cooled to room temperature, and tossed with salad dressing and greens. My faves are green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms.
- By Sherry Rujikarn
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