At first glance, Everyday Detox is really just a recipe book. Sure, the recipes are simple, wholesome and they look delicious, but how can that help me to detox when our environment is so inescapably toxic – from GMO contamination to prolific pesticides, pollution in our food and water and don’t even get me started on the toxicology of modern pharmaceuticals! My training taught me that the best response is cleansing twice a year that is equally as drastic: fasting, juicing, and taking herbal supplements to draw out the heavy metals and chemicals built up into the nooks and crannies of our bodies.
Judging Everyday Detox purely by it’s cover, I didn’t give this book much credence. So I set it aside and stared at the cover photo of a roasted veggie pizza garnished with fresh arugula, crumbled feta and drizzled with olive oil…until I couldn’t stand it any longer – and I had to peek inside.
As it turns out, the author Megan Gilmore is a lot like me. Young, enthusiastic, and passionate about healthy living and preventative medicine. It even turns out we share some similar addictions as I recently read in her refreshingly candid blog:
“Three days doesn’t leave you with much time to crash diet to look camera-ready, either. The “old me” probably would have tried to do a strict juice fast or eat low-carb to look as skinny as possible on camera (since it supposedly adds 10 pounds), but this experience proved to me that I’m in a much better place than I used to be– I had no urge to do anything crazy, and I didn’t feel the need to stress eat, either. As a former binge eater, this was huge for me!”
And we might even be about the same age…or do I flatter myself? 😉
Crash-dieting, strict fasting and extreme cleanses are the crux of a huge problem, according to Megan. “Most diets and cleanses have all-or-nothing rules that encourage unhealthy cycles of intense restriction followed by inevitable bingeing.” Throughout Everyday Detox, Megan advocates a perfectly sane, nutritionally balanced and emotionally satisfying way “to remove toxins, promote gut health, and lose weight naturally”.
Everyday Detox offers 100 simple recipes that are likely healthier variations on foods you enjoy all the time like meatballs in marinara sauce, salad dressings, fish tacos and pizza. My favorite chapter – actually – is all about “comfort food” where she features cheesy jalapeno casserole, southwest stuffed sweet potatoes, zucchini lasagna and maple mustard glazed salmon. (are you drooling, yet? for more info, click here.)
How is eating healthier helping my body to detoxify?
Megan doesn’t try to impress us with fancy statistics and scientific data about health and nutrition. Seasoned dieters know all that by now. Instead, she opens the first pages of Everyday Detox with a revealing confession of her own struggles with weight gain, binge eating, and the downward spiral of yo-yo dieting:
“It wasn’t until I ditched all of the drastic diets that I finally saw results. The key to healing my body and getting past this cycle of yo-yo dieting was to change the quality of the foods I ate, and how I ate them, rather than radically giving up an entire food group or setting unrealistic calorie goals. (Haven’t we all been there!) I learned that, just like a pendulum, the more severe an approach goes in one direction, like committing to a strict diet, the more drastically it will eventually swing back in the other direction, turning into an all-out binge session. By making gradual and manageable changes, I finally set myself up to succeed.”
These “gradual and manageable changes” also had to be palatable to her family – so she found ways to make familiar foods healthier, and to incorporate more fresh, whole ingredients into the pantry. Before she knew it, she had cataloged several hundreds of unique approaches to healthy eating that are among the most approachable and flexible of most “healthy eating” cookbooks. No special equipment or expensive ingredients required.
Where do I begin?
Page one is just as good as the desserts chapter…but don’t skimp on the sidebars and tidbits along the way. For example, you may have heard that overheating or charring meats and vegetables destroys their nutrition (hence the raw foods movement) but did you know that blackened, roasted and fried foods contain a carcinogenic compound called “acrylamide”? While it is not possible to completely avoid over-cooked foods all the time – there are ways to reduce our cancer risk from the foods we eat: namely, choose fresh, raw, whole and organic as much as possible, and keep cooking times and temperatures to the safest minimum possible.
The other side of cooking our foods, however, deals with digestability. Certain starchy foods, especially, are indigestible in their raw state and yet extremely nutritious when carefully prepared. Rice, nuts, seeds and quinoa are excellent examples of highly nutritious foods that benefit from soaking in water before cooking. This method preserves the viatmins and minerals, enhances flavor and makes them easier on the stomach for happier, more satisfying meals.
Try this at home!
Here is an excerpt of one of my favorite recipes from this book that has become a staple at the Homestead:
Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
2 t coconut oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (seeds optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t sea salt
2 cups fresh spinach
1 avocado, pitted
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pierce the skin of the sweet potatoes several times with a fork to vent, then rub the skins with 1 t coconut oil. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
Melt the remaining 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes along with the cumin, chili powder, and salt and saute for another 5 minutes, allowing the liquid from the tomatoes to evaporate. Finally, add in the fresh spinach, sauteing just long enough for the leaves to wilt.
Remove the baked sweet potatoes from the oven, cut in half lengthwise, and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Spoon the sauteed vegetable filling over the potatoes, then top each with diced ripe avocado and a sprinking of cilantro. Serve warm.
Megan’s suggestion to “make it more filling” which I highly recommend: Add 1 and 1/2 cups cooked beans or lentils for a more filling yet still properly combined meal.
Do you love books? Do you love writing about books? Did you know that I received my review copy of Everyday Detox free from a Random House program called Blogging for Books for this review? Well, now you know!