Thank you so much for your interest in the cleanse. (Maybe I should have started this post “Dear Sirs.”) I won’t go on at length about the details of it, because if you’re going to follow one in an orthodox way, you should probably check a book out of the library or sign up with a website or something. But I will explain my interest, in part to dispel any misconceptions about what I think a cleanse is or can do. For me, the idea is not really to detox in some magical way, whereby, thanks to a few days of snorting cayenne or whatever, my cells release all their ancient heavy-metal alchemy experiments and my colon suddenly disgorges piles of decades-old shit it’s been hoarding in its nooks and crannies. No. It’s more about resetting my baselines with regards to my many dietary passions, which include, but are not limited to, bread and cheese, buttered toast, coffee with half and half, chips and crackers, pizza, cheese without bread, and alcohol in all its many lovely forms. I love these foods passionately and do not wish to permanently stop consuming them. But come the end of December, I need to take a break so that, later, I can really appreciate one glass of pinot noir and two lovely pieces cheese, rather than drinking the whole barrel and eating the entire wheel and then scrounging around for more. And also my horrible old-lady acne, and how it goes completely away while I’m eating like this. And also energy, which I enjoy buckets of. Sigh.
Thee years in, though, I have a few tips to share:
- Coconut cream (the kind you buy in a can at Trader Joe’s) actually does a decent job of lightening your horrible not-coffee drinks, such as Tee-cino or Roastaroma. Decant the can into a mason jar, and keep it in the fridge.
- Have on hand an exciting little snack that you love (this year it is Trader Joe’s Truffle Marcona Almonds) and a little something lovely that you can pour an inch of into a wine glass at the end of the day (Red Jacket Tart Cherry Stomp from—prepare to cash out your retirement fund—Whole Foods).
- Pan-fried chickpeas make salads, and life, way more festive.
- Raw cashews are your friend, especially if you soak them. I’ve made, like, a million versions of this "cheese", served it with these crackers, and have been completely satisfied.
- A little square of dark chocolate never killed a person.
Look, it’s not for everyone. As Ben put it, “I think the only cleanse I could really handle would be designed by the good folks at Frito-Lay.” And I know you know this, but if this is all driving you crazy, click on the recipe index and find one of the many molten-cheese or molten-pork recipes that are lying around here. There are plenty, I promise.
Clean Green Soup
I wanted to call this “Smooth Green Soup,” to alert you to the fact that it’s really a smoothie masquerading as soup, but then it sounded too much like what my kids used to call, with respect to prunes and bran cereal, a “pooping food.” It is surprisingly savory and rich and delicious and, whether or not the energy comes from my head and what it thinks this food is doing for me, the energy comes. I really don’t presume you have sauerkraut lying around, but oh, if you do, it’s so good in here. I bet that other pickled things would be good too, but I haven’t tried. And if you’re eating dairy, a little spoonful of plain yogurt would be a lovely garnish.
1 cup newly boiled water
1 tablespoon mellow miso
¼ cup sauerkraut or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 smallish handful each: spinach, arugula, chopped kale (3 handfuls of one type is fine; watercress would be great too)
2 tablespoons almonds, soaked in water for a couple of hours or overnight
½ an avocado
1 small, leafy celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove
Salt to taste
Put everything in your blender and blend until blended. (That is such a terrifically terrible sentence that I’m leaving it.) But I do mean really, really blended. Taste and add more salt if it needs it.