Some readers of this blog, the CompostMaster and I recently took on the challenge presented in The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet by Mark Hyman, MD. Dr. Hyman is one of the physicians featured in the recent movie Fed Up.
We carefully reviewed the diet, which was recommended to us by our doctor, before we committed to follow it. Neither of us wanted to try anything too crazy. For example, I wanted to make sure it included real food and wasn’t primarily liquid-based. So, even though the word “detox” is in the title, it isn’t a “cleanse.” It’s primarily about getting off sugar, caffeine, alcohol, grains and dairy.
So why did we decide to detox?
For me, it was all about my blood glucose, specifically my fasting numbers. I’ve been suffering from the dawn effect for quite a while and nothing seemed to consistently bring my fasting numbers down. After more than a decade of following the American Diabetes Association’s dietary guidelines, I found they just didn’t work for me anymore. I didn’t want to add another medication unless absolutely necessary so I tried giving up wheat and going vegan. While that regimen may work perfectly well for some, it didn’t work for me since most vegan sources of protein also contain carbohydrates. My post-meal BG numbers were controlled, but my fasting numbers were not. I decided the diet recommended in the detox was going to be my last attempt at controlling my BG with diet and metformin only.
For the CompostMaster, although he’s amazingly healthy, he has been having trouble losing weight, specifically around his middle. After reading the book, we became convinced the detox would work for both of us.
In just 10 days, the CompostMaster and I accomplished the following:
- We both kicked caffeine, tea for me and coffee for him.
- He lost 8 pounds and I lost 5.
- My fasting blood glucose dropped more than 60 points between Day 1 and Day 10. (Yes, it was embarrassingly high at the start.)
- I lost two full inches off my waistline.
Things You Should Know
If you are considering the detox, here are a few things you might want to know so you can plan accordingly:
- The process will be much easier if you have a support group. I set up a private Facebook group so that we could all share our successes and frustrations. If you’d like to start the detox at any time, please request to join the Facebook group and those of us who have been through it will be happy to answer questions and support you through the process.
- Your diet will primarily consist of poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, non-starchy vegetables, lots of greens, avocados, coconut & olive oil, nuts and seeds. You’ll get to eat a little bit of fruit in your morning smoothie and a dinner choice or two features beef.
- You will spend a lot of time cooking, chopping and preparing food.
- If you aren’t normally at home during the day (e.g. you work in an office), I recommend you start the detox on a Saturday. You may not feel great the first couple of days (especially if you are trying to kick caffeine) and your body needs time to adjust to all of the changes.
- You will think about poop more often than you ever have in your life.
- There will be times that you are in a bad mood, feel exhausted and/or have a headache. Know that these symptoms are temporary and that, in just a few days, the pain totally will be worth it because you will feel so alive and energetic.
- Make sure to eat your snacks. I skipped my afternoon snack one day and really, really, really wanted to go out to dinner that night because I was so hungry I didn’t want to take the time to cook. Fortunately, the CompostMaster offered to make dinner. (Yes, I’m a lucky girl to have this kind of support at home.)
- The recipes in the book were not written by someone who cooks often! The instructions might tell you to pour dressing on a salad and then go cook a piece of chicken. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like soggy greens! Read the recipes carefully and see if the steps make sense or if you need to make some adjustments.
- If you don’t like the recipe choices for a given day (there’s always a basic one and an adventurous one), you can eat vegetables plus your choice of protein instead. The meals are very flexible.
So, are we glad we did the detox? Absolutely!
How will we eat going forward? Our plan is to stick to the guidelines for a couple of months, then start adding in some of the “forbidden” foods to see how they affect us. We feel so good at the moment and we’ve had such success we don’t want to change anything!
For Father’s Day we decided to all meet at Mom & Dad’s lake house and bring lunch to them instead of going out to a restaurant. The CompostMaster did a most excellent job of grilling Angoori Shrimp (Glazed Shrimp & Grape Kebobs), Asian-flavored chicken kebabs (declared by Nephew #1 to be “the best chicken I’ve ever tasted”), zucchini and pineapple. In addition, we had a pasta salad, Spinach Salad with Macerated Blueberries and Nectarines (recipe below) and, Dad’s favorite, pineapple upside down cake. I guess we’re a fruity family.
This salad travels well. Basically, you can mix up the dressing and add the fruit ahead of time. Then, just before you’re ready to eat, add the spinach and nuts. In fact, I often macerate the fruit, store it in the refrigerator and then we have an instant, no-fuss salad quickly ready for lunch or dinner.
As with the Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup, the recipe below is a specific example of a more general technique. To make a green salad with macerated fruit and nuts:
- Mix up the dressing with any type of balsamic or wine-based vinegar you have. This is a great time to experiment with those vinegars you picked up at the specialty shop. Fruity vinegars work very well.
- Add 1-1/2 pounds of whatever fruit is in season. Blueberries have just arrived at the farmers’ markets here in North Carolina, so I used them (and, boy, were they good). Try apples and pears in the fall or oranges and mangoes in the winter. You can also use frozen fruit in a pinch.
- Mix in some salad greens.
- Add your favorite nuts. Walnuts, almonds and pecans all work well.
If you come up with a particularly good combination of vinegar, fruit, greens and nuts, I’d love to hear about it.
Spinach Salad with Macerated Blueberries and Nectarines
Adapted from VB6 by Mark Bittman
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used blackberry ginger)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound fresh blueberries
3/4 pound fresh nectarines, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
10 cups baby spinach
1 cup slivered almonds
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, shallot, salt and pepper. Add blueberries and nectarines plus any juice that accumulated while you were chopping the nectarines. Toss to coat and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
Add spinach and almonds and toss until leaves are evenly coated with dressing. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 223 calories, 15g fat (2g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 360mg sodium, 20g carb, 5g fiber, 12g sugar, 6g protein
Nutritional Analysis: If you want to reduce the amount of Fat in this salad, use fewer almonds. If you want to cut back on the amount of Sodium, use less of the added salt.
Since I’m experimenting more and more with vegan and gluten-free foods and I love all types of ethnic cuisines, I was delighted to receive a copy of Dahlia Abraham-Klein’s new book Silk Road Vegetarian.
Sharing the “secrets of healthy and sustainable eating as practiced along the trade routes of Asia for centuries,” this book is perfect for mindful cooks who want to eat a healthy diet filled with locally-sourced ingredients. All recipes are vegetarian; some are also vegan, dairy-free and/or gluten-free. Each recipe is labeled so there is no confusion, but I do wish nutritional information had been included.
A staple of North Indian cuisine, traditional Palak Paneer is made with lots of ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (fresh Indian cheese). In this healthier vegan version, Dahlia uses coconut oil instead of ghee and she substitutes tofu for the paneer. The result is a fresh dish that isn’t swimming in fat. This recipe is similar to one of my favorite vegan breakfast dishes – Tofu Scramble with Swiss Chard. The Indian Spinach Curry recipe below adds tomatoes, a wider variety of spices and seems to be more appropriate for dinner.
If you can afford the carbs, serve this with some steamed brown rice that was cooked with fragrant cardamom pods.
Time-saving tip: Use a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh or use pre-washed baby spinach and don’t bother chopping it.
If you like this recipe, some of my Virtual Potluck pals will be sharing others from Silk Road Vegetarian this week. Check out Fennel & Orange Salad from Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine and Middle Eastern Lemon Potato Salad from Cookistry.
I’m giving away a copy of Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein. To enter, leave a comment and tell me your favorite cuisine and/or dish to eat along the Silk Road (trade routes through Asia, Africa, Europe and India) – Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, North African, etc. The contest will run through Tuesday, June 17, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. You must be at least 18 years of age with a U.S. mailing address to win. No purchase is necessary; void where prohibited. The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours or another winner may be selected. (Please make sure email from email@example.com doesn’t end up in your spam folder.)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein from Tuttle Publishing plus a second copy to give away. All opinions are my own.
Indian Spinach Curry (Palak Paneer)
Adapted from Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein
16-ounce block of firm tofu
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
4 cups finely chopped fresh spinach (large stems removed before chopping)
Place two paper towels on a cutting board and set the tofu on top. Put two more paper towels on top of the tofu and place something heavy on the stack (I use a bacon press or cast iron skillet). Let it sit for at least 5 minutes to remove some of the moisture from the tofu. Discard paper towels and slice tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.
Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange tofu in single layer and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until browned all over. Set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until translucent.
Add coriander, cumin and turmeric to saucepan; stir until fragrant. Add ginger, chili powder and crushed red pepper, if using. Cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes and salt to saucepan, then bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the spinach. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 7 minutes or until the spinach is bright green.
Gently stir in the tofu and combine well. Simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes to allow the tofu to absorb the flavors of the curry.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 142 calories, 8g fat (4g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 531mg sodium, 9g carb, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, 10g protein
Nutritional Analysis: If you are watching your Sodium intake, eliminate or reduce the amount of coarse kosher salt. If you’d like to cut back on the amount of Saturated Fat, use olive oil instead of coconut oil.