For the first time in my life I am doing a “cleanse”. When I told my aunt she had visions of me drinking lemon juice and cayenne pepper and basically killing my kidneys. Let me assure you that is NOT my thing. To be fair, I’ve never done a “diet” before – by which I mean a regiment of restricted eating. I go through phases of eating less sugar, but that’s basically it. I grew up seeing my mother diet most of my life. I saw some pretty weird ones, and it just never appealed to me.
So why am I doing this now, all of a sudden?
It’s actually a long story, which I will try to make short. I’ve always had a sensitive stomach. Since I was a kid I’ve never been able to over-eat, eat too much sugar, or eat too much fat or my stomach freaked out and I would spend the entire rest of the day ill. Along side this, my stomach would get very upset over anything slightly different. This has been a battle my entire life, particularly as my family loves culturally diverse foods. Basically, I have spent most of my time with an upset stomach. Honestly. It is terrible. But it was always just part of the deal. It was an accepted part of me that came with up-sides (my weight has never really fluctuated, because I can’t over-eat) and down-sides (I have serious limits on what I can eat on a date/night out).
Then – because I work in a bookstore – a book came across my desk called Gut Gastronomy. It was there for me to look over and see if I would recommend it, and while I don’t know that yet, I am intrigued. The ideas presented in this cookbook are about completely changing the actual bacteria in your gut and how it works. The principle is that what we eat, particularly things like dairy and processed foods, are hard on our stomach and set our system off-balance. If anything promised a break from recurring stomach aches, this book seemed to be it. So I’m giving it a try… well sort of.
In Gut Gastronomy there is a seven-day cleanse laid out plain and simple with meal breakdowns and recipes in the book. It is designed to reset your gut to be healthy and happy. You can say I’ve been more “inspired” by it that actually doing the cleanse, because… well… I didn’t like some of the recipes. Ok I know a cleanse isn’t about comfort, but the bottom line is: I won’t do it if I don’t like the food. And then it’s a total waste.
What I am doing, is substituting a few dishes that I would never eat with other dishes from the cookbook so that I follow the same diet (all the recipes in the cookbook are broken down by “program” and I stuck with all of the recipes you eat initially). I’ve also adapted a recipe here and there because the ingredients simply aren’t available.
The long and the short of it is: I’m not following exactly the cleanse in Gut Gastronomy but I am sticking with the concept and limits laid out in the book. The idea is that every recipe in the book is supposed to be helpful to balance out the system, so it certainly can’t do any harm. And it should still do me good, even if doing the prescribed steps would benefit me more. I’ll document the recipes I like and the ones I adapted in the blog and let you know how it goes!
Seven day cleanse of food that is beneficial for my stomach and its bacteria. There is strictly no processed foods, no dairy, and limited (ideally no) gluten. Gut Gastronomy has a specific meal plan of breakfast, lunch and dinner (no snacks) that includes two days where one “fasts” for dinner and breakfast with broth and tea. I will stick to this principle, but instead chose my own meals from the cookbook. I will follow the recipes from the book with two exceptions:
- The Baked Eggs from the book include chorizo – which is the only processed food in the entire cookbook. I will be opting for a chorizo-free version. As you will see, I still keep the flavour using paprika. This is not an earth-shattering change, and I think, if anything, sticks more strictly to the rules laid out in the book
- The Gravlax in the book I could not find most of the ingredients for, so I will be adapting a traditional gravlax recipe, which consists only of salt, sugar, pepper and dill. Refined Sugar is off-limits in this cleanse, so I am using a substitute used elsewhere in this cookbook: Palm sugar. This might be the only drastic departure from the cleanse, but I am still following the rules, so I think it won’t derail me, or my stomach.
I am doing this with my work-schedule so rather than beginning Jan 1st, I begin tomorrow. This will be done Sunday Jan 3rd – Saturday Jan 9th.
Working Sunday – Thursday means that the first five days of the cleanse, when I am likely to have the worst cravings, I will be distracted with work. Working at a bookstore, there’s not many options for snacking and you are usually busy from 8:00-4:30 straight, so I shouldn’t even be tempted until the evening, and for the most part, I have things going on in the evening as well to distract me.
Friday and Saturday will be the biggest test of me sticking to the plan, but that is what (I hope) blogging the cleanse is for, to keep me honest. And Friday I am off to a spa anyway so I will be surrounded by healthy thoughts and people… right? Wish me luck!
I want to go this week without a stomach ache. That would actually be huge for me. But I do have some side hopes.
(1) I hope it’ll help my skin. I have heard that sugar is 90% of the reason I have problem skin. But I also love sugar. I’m hoping that this week of no refined sugar will actually prove to me that my skin can improve with less sugar.
(2) I’d also really like to break my obvious addiction to sugar. I’ve always had a “Sweet tooth” and its just not good.
(3) It would be *nice* if I felt healthier. I don’t actually have an expectation of what that means, but people do cleanses and claim to be happier, or have more energy, or just feel different. I have a lot of changes in my life right now, why no go for a positive one?
Day -1 (Preparing for the cleanse)
The first thing I had to do was “cleanse” my refrigerator. I hate wasting food, but there were some things I simply would not be allowed to eat in the coming days and that would go bad by the time I could eat them again. It was nothing huge, some cream that I use for sauces, peanut-butter fudge I forgot to bring to someone’s house, and some ricotta cake. Condiments and cheese aside (because I will never actually throw away good parmesan) my fridge is mostly vegetables and salmon now.
As far as food goes, I had to prep two things, but I ended up doing three:
Asian-style salmon tartar
The Chia Museli claims it only needs five minutes for the chia to soak up water, but everyone I’ve asked says to leave chia seeds to soak overnight, so I prepped the chia without changing the recipe in any other way. With some luck, it will ready to eat tomorrow morning. Right now it looks like fruit-water, so I’m suspicious about this meal… I’ll let you know…
The Gravlax is a traditional recipe rather than the one in Gut Gastronomy which means it takes 3 days to cure. It is ridiculously simple though. I’ve got the recipe below, because it is basically made, I just have to wait.
The Asian-style salmon tartar is the one that I probably didn’t need to prep, and maybe shouldn’t have… but it is my lunch tomorrow. I am having it for lunch Sunday and Monday, and I know I wouldn’t have time to make it tomorrow morning. The salmon is lovely and fresh and I am hopeful the citrus won’t break it down too much. I’ll let you know. This might have been a bad idea
- 300 g very fresh salmon, de-boned
- 1 1/3 cup salt
- 2/3 cup palm sugar
- 2 tbsp pepper
- 100g fresh dill
Finely chop the dill, and skin the salmon.
In a small bowl, mix salt, sugar, dill and pepper. This is your “cure”
Layer a dish with the cure.
Place the salmon on top:
Cover with another layer of cure, packed on lightly:
Layer some plastic wrap (or baking parchment) over the salmon and compress with a flat surface. Most people use another dish… I used a book:
Weight down with cans, another book, or anything to compress the salmon.
Refrigerate for three days.
When three days is up, rinse the fish and pat dry.
Eat with chia crackers to follow the cleanse… or with whatever you want if you aren’t cleansing.