It’s time, people: The Clean Food Challenge

I have been sick for 10 days.  During this sickness, I have had conjunctivitis (two times) and I have had a cough, sore throat, body aches and headaches the whole time.  During these past weeks, I have also been super busy and therefore eating on-the-go.  My diet has mostly consisted of bread in many forms, you know, like bagels, bagels and more bagels.  Today two things happened:  I felt like crap in a way that I only feel when I’ve been eating too much bread and not enough whole foods and veggies.  And, my friend at work told me he is going to do the Clean Food Challenge with his wife next week.  (You are OMIM official, Tony and Kate!)

I did finally get in a run today and felt pretty good, so I’m ready to make my way back and get super healthy.  But I have the upcoming week off from school, and I do much better on the CFC when I am working and my time is very structured.

I’ve been leading up to this for a few months, knowing it was time to cut the crap and clean myself out, so here we go.  I will be doing the CFC for 7 days beginning on Monday .  That means I can spend next week, vacation week, organizing and stocking my freezer with extra clean soups and dinners.

What is the CFC?  It’s a simple cleanse that I made up last year and this is the 3rd time I’ll be doing it.  It feels so fantastic, and I recommend you try it.

Here are the “rules” of the CFC (remember that I made these up but was guided and inspired by other cleanses).

-No Dairy
-No Sugar
-No Alcohol
-No Gluten
-No Processed anything
– Only organic and lean proteins like fish and chicken.

I will eat:  vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, fresh-pressed juices, green smoothies, and a gallon of water per day.   I will drink one cup of coffee per day.  You may call this cheating.  I call it necessary.

Have you been interested in doing a cleanse, but never been brave enough to try?
Would you have better luck on a cleanse if you had friends doing it with you?
Whether you’ve done it before or whether you are a cleanse virgin, would you like to join me?

If you are thinking about it, you may want to read these two previous posts:
getting ready for the CFC
shopping for the CFC

And use these tips to help keep you organized.

1. Plan Ahead.  Pack your fridge and cupboards full of CFC friendly foods.  If you want to go crazy, you might even make a few soups and salads (like quinuoa, veggie and bean salads) to have in your fridge for quick lunches.  Almonds, cashews, pre-cut fruits and veggies work well for snacks you can grab when you are hungry.  The afternoon hours before dinner are hardest for me, so I like to drink a smoothie or eat something filling that will get me through the dinner prep time.

I also prepare for the CFC by deep-cleaning my fridge and my oven.  It just seems like the right time to do it.

2.  Go for filling foods.  You are giving up processed food, yes, but that doesn’t mean you need to be eating celery sticks for a week. Especially if you are exercising, or if you are like me, you’ll really want to feel full after you eat.  Curried Sweet Potato Soup (skip milk) is a life saver and keeps well in the fridge.  Anything made with potatoes will fill you up, and baked sweet potatoes are packed full of nutrients and taste really good.   I even love to cube and bake a sweet potato and then put it, still warm, on top of a giant salad (thanks, Ange!).   Eat oatmeal for breakfast with a pile of blueberries on top and some maple syrup.  For a snack, slather almond butter on a banana, eat handfuls of dried fruit and nuts, or eat a whole avocado sprinkled with sea salt.

3.  Go for flavorful foods.   Grill some pineapple or mango for a fruit salsa.  Add curry or cayenne or paprika to your dishes.  Dress your salads with lemon, agave, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Make a pesto (no cheese) to put over fish or boiled potatoes.  Eat spicy black beans and salsa with home-made guacamole!  Walk through your health food store with an eye for something new; try new foods and make it an adventure.

4.  In a pinch?:  During the CFC, I try to eat only foods that are whole when I buy them from the store,  But, if you are in need of a store-bought snack, Kind Bars are dairy and gluten free and are minimally processed so they would be a good choice in a pinch.  Also, Lara Bars are dairy and gluten and sweetened only with dates.

5.  Drink the water:  Water helps this whole cleanse process because it flushes your system right out.  If you can succeed in drinking the recommended 1 gallon of water a day (my camelbak water bottle filled 5 times), you will be peeing all the time.  It’s kind of a pain, but I credit all of the water as being one of the things that helped me feel so clean and sparkly during my last cleanse.   And water helps you feel more full, too.

Here are two recipes I loved last time on the CFC:

Tangy Basmati (from friend Josie)

1 cup basmati rice
1 3/4 cups water
1 Tbsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
3 Tbsp grated coconut
1/4 cup chopped almonds or raw cashews
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a small pan, heat up oil and add mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander seeds and nuts. When
seeds begin to pop, add coconut and stir well to toast and blend spices. Set aside until rice is
ready, at which point stir into rice with lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

Tempeh Stir Fry
Stir fry together 4 minced cloves garlic, 1 onion chopped, 1 package of crumbled tempeh, 1 head of broccoli chopped,  a bunch of halved green beans, 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

I served it over brown rice and sprinkled it with peanuts that I ground up in the food processor.
Yum.

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