Spring Clean Your Internal House with Natural Detox Foods
These everyday, common foods support the body's natural detox system. No diet required.
If you barely escaped the dark isolation of the past winter, you’re not alone. The cold, lonely days felt much heavier this year.
But as we spring our clocks forward, hope comes back into bloom. The days are getting longer, and slowly the warmth from the sun brings back our youthful glow.
Spring is a time for rebirth and a fresh start, one we need this year more than ever. And the promise of sunnier skies ahead may have you looking to shed the weight of the winter blues.
If you're thinking you need a new to jump on a new diet trend, purchase some magical powder to clear out the junk, or drink a special tea to detox, hear me out first.
These everyday foods are commonly found and may already be hiding in your kitchen. The seasonal flavors support your body’s transition to a lighter and brighter routine.
Don’t give in to the temptation of detox trends and false promises. If you’re looking for a refresh, try these foods that support your body's natural spring cleaning system.
Fresh artichokes are an intimidating side dish to conquer, but one that is worth the reward. The canned and frozen varieties found year-round are delicious but lack the complex flavors and nutrients of a fresh artichoke.
Artichokes are the best friend to your liver, increasing bile secretion and stimulating digestion enzymes. They lower blood pressure and are full of fiber to help move out the unwanted baggage accumulated over the winter’s hibernation.
Don’t be intimidated by their tough exterior. Artichokes are quite simple to prepare and are so much more enjoyable and beneficial to eat.
Simple steps to cooking fresh artichokes
Wash and clean your globe artichoke.
With a serrated knife, cut the top portion of the leaves off, where the spikes come together. Don’t worry about trimming the rest, cooking will soften the leaves.
Carefully trim the stem with a peeler or paring knife. Remove the outer tough exterior just until you expose the lighter inner-flesh. This tiny portion of the artichoke is one of the most delicious parts and is worth carefully preparing.
Boil a large pot filled with water. Add aromatics, like fresh lemon, garlic, herbs like rosemary and thyme, and salt.
When the pot is boiling, add in the fresh artichokes and boil for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size.
You’ll know when they are done when you can pierce a knife through the heart of the artichoke with ease.
Remove from water and allow to cool.
Whip up a simple sauce and peel back the layers on this delicious treat.
Asparagus is another seasonal favorite loved by your liver. Available year-round, but its peak season starts in March. You’ll find different varieties, including white, purple, and the most common green asparagus. The purple stalks may be tempting to purchase, but once cooked, turn to the familiar green of their less-expensive counterparts.
Similar to artichokes, this vegetable stimulates liver enzymes aiding digestion. Its pungent flavor clears out congestion and reduces the built-up phlegm in the body.
Asparagus is one of the highest food sources of glutathione, an antioxidant known to reduce oxidative stress, improve insulin resistance, and protect the immune system. Asparagus is also high in asparagine, which is the compound that acts like a diuretic and the reason for the distinct smell when you use the restroom.
It’s always best to look for the freshest stalks. Older asparagus will have more of the woodsy ends that will have to be cut off to enjoy.
Asparagus can be used in so many different ways. Roasted with olive oil and salt and then topped with fresh parmesan and lemon zest to make a great side dish. Top with a soft-boiled egg and a fresh piece of bread and you have a delicious meal.
It’s also a fast-cooking vegetable for those who hate spending hours in the kitchen. It can easily be added to stir-fries, pasta, and even scrambled eggs for a quick nutrient boost of your favorite meals.
The chlorophyll-rich fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, mint, and parsley don’t just brighten up any dish but add a hefty dose of nutrients in each bite.
Herbs support the body’s natural detox and digestive process. They stimulate digestive enzymes, soothe inflammation, and relieve the nervous system from stress. Each bunch is surprisingly high in antioxidants and essential nutrients like vitamin A, C, Cooper, and magnesium.
Fresh herbs act as natural diuretics, regulate blood pressure, and improve the body’s natural energy. They also pack a ton of flavor without weighing your dish down.
Add at the end of cooking soups, meats, and side dishes to amp up your taste buds and assist your body in the digestion process.
I love adding a mix of herbs to salads to replace store-bought dressing and create different layers in a boring bed of greens.
You can also make a homemade salsa verde with a combination of cilantro, parsley, mint, or basil, olive oil, lemon, and garlic to put on anything to up the flavor, and the nutrition.
Just like fresh herbs, spices are powdered powerhouses full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bland-meal properties. They add tons of vibrant flavors and beneficial healing seasonings that elevate any dish.
A few of my favorite are:
Cayenne pepper: A fiery capsaicin whose heat opens up the blood vessels, enhances circulation, and stimulates digestion. Add a touch of this spice to any sauce to wake up the flavors without adding extra salt or fat.
Cinnamon: A warming, sweet, and slightly pungent spice that supports the spleen, pancreas, and digestive juices. Cinnamon helps counteract congestion by circulating and regulating blood sugar. It adds a sweet flavor to baked treats, oatmeal, coffee, or even a savory dish without added sugar.
Turmeric: A favorite for its high anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits, turmeric is also rich in beta-carotene. It regulates blood sugar and aids in the breakdown of carbohydrates.
I love adding a spoon of turmeric to a soothing pot of chicken soup to enhance its already healing properties. Brighten up a boring pot of rice or colorless cauliflower with a touch of turmeric, making a visually-appealing side dish.
Garlic: Garlic has a strong, pungent taste comprised of sulfur compounds that help eliminate toxins from the liver. It may linger on your breath, but the offensive odor is worth the internal reward.
Add finely chopped garlic to your favorite vegetable dishes or salad dressings. When cooking I always add it towards the end and keep the heat low. This ensures it doesn’t burn and end up making everything taste bitter.
Despite the acidic taste of lemons, limes, grapefruit, and oranges, citrus fruits have an alkaline effect on the body. This benefits the immune system and assists in the natural elimination of excess fluid and water in the body. Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants.
You don’t need a master to cleanse to flush your system. A fresh squeeze of lemon on top of your meal helps activate the enzymes that breakdown heavy foods in your system.
Or try a bright and fresh salad of grapefruit, oranges, fresh beets, fennel, and dark greens like arugula or watercress for a detoxifying salad that is not only good for your body but excites your taste buds.
You can also incorporate more citrus by swapping out the vinegar for fresh lemon, lime, or orange in sauces and marinades. A simple mix of lemon, olive oil, salt, and a touch of honey makes a great dressing. Add some fresh herbs, garlic, and even some turmeric, and you have an amazing protein marinade.
Spring Clean your Comfort Cravings
The weight of the world has been heavy and many of us have been coping with isolation by stuffing our face with all the comfort cravings.
It’s normal to give in to what makes us feel good. With Spring coming into bloom, it’s time to lighten the load from those heavy winter feelings.
You don’t have to take drastic measures to have a huge impact on your health.
Fad diets may bring temporary relief but aren’t long-term solutions to better health. Agonizing with over-complicated recipes only robs you of time, energy, and hard-earn money; and doesn't guarantee you better results.
A healthy diet should be simple and accessible to everyone. These common, pantry-staple foods are easy to incorporate and support your health goals.
You are the best expert. And real, whole, everyday foods can be your best medicine, easing your transition to a new season of change.