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Why I cleanse in February

Week of February 1, 2015

It’s that time of year when everybody talks about detoxes, cleanses, diets, etc. I have to admit, I may have overindulged during the holidays, but a detox or cleanse is not the answer to overcome that guilt. I am a huge advocate of detoxing, but cleanses are more than a quick weight-loss solution. Weight management simply comes by making a habit of making better eating decisions.

I tend to avoid the fad of cleansing right after the holidays because I like to decompress and get back to my “real” routine. By mid-January the Christmas tree has served its purpose and gone to the “park” where all Christmas trees go after the holidays. The last remaining decorations have been put away and the cookies are finally gone! I have time to juice in the mornings and am once again able to think clearly.

Now is when I am finally ready for the benefits of a cleanse! But why cleanse in the first place? The only way that toxins are eliminated from the body is through the natural processes of detoxification, which occurs through the skin by perspiration, through the colon by elimination, through the kidneys by urination, and through the lungs by respiration. When the body has accumulated more toxins than it can handle, the body, in its amazing natural healing process, attempts a healing response. It must force the toxins out or the body will disease and die. I have been detoxing twice a year for four years now and the benefits I have experienced are endless. Here are just a few:

  • Increase in energy.
  • The digestive tract will rid itself of accumulated waste and bacteria.
  • Liver, kidneys and blood are purified and function more effectively.
  • The peristaltic action of the colon is strengthened. (Peristalsis are a series of muscle contractions that occur in your digestive tract.)
  • A mental clarity occurs that is not possible under the constant bombardment of chemicals and food additives.
  • Dependency on habit-forming substances such as refined sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs is greatly diminished. (No more cravings!)
  • Bad eating habits are broken. As you come off the program it will be easier to make wiser food choices.
  • The stomach has a chance to return to its normal size, making it easier to control the quantity of food you eat.

I was super excited when Klesick Family Farm announced their Juice Cleanse Box last year. This box contains all of the produce you need to participate in a basic juice cleanse. They even include a copy of their juice cleanse plan with all of the recipes.

After you cleanse it is important to pay attention to your body and what it needs. Your “cravings” will be different and your palate will be cleansed as well. Real fruits and vegetables will taste better, so take advantage of this situation and avoid introducing “not-so-good” food into your daily diet.

One of my go-to recipes for after a cleanse is Fresh Summer Rolls: thin rice paper stuffed with veggies, protein and rice noodles, and served with a side of lightly spicy peanut sauce.

If you’re not familiar with these little delicacies – also known as fresh spring rolls – then my, you’ve got a treat in store! Cucumber water aside, they’re just about the freshest thing I can imagine: a jumble of crunchy raw vegetables, soft, aromatic leaves and cool, squidgy noodles, all stuffed snugly into a feather light rice wrapper. In fact, summer rolls were what first hooked me on the fresh flavors of Vietnamese cooking: so much lighter and punchier than the fried snacks I was expecting. It’s a delicious Asian salad packed into an edible container.

Once you’ve mastered the basics you can play around with the recipe to your heart’s content, but the guiding principle should always be to cram as many contrasts of flavor and texture into each bite as possible, while retaining the roll’s elegant appearance. And listo! Ready to enjoy!

Please Note: A juice cleanse is not for everyone. Consult your doctor to be sure a juice cleanse is right for you.

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
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Recipe: Fresh Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce    

 

Your choice of protein: cooked prawns, sautéed chicken or tofu

1 block of rice vermicelli noodles

4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked

4 sprigs of basil leaves (Asian or Italian)

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 red pepper, peeled and grated

¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks

1 soft lettuce, ½ shredded

4 tbsp. salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

8 rice paper wrappers

 

For the Peanut Sauce:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Juice of 1 small orange

2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon of garlic-chili sauce

1-2 tablespoons of agave

 

Put the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then rinse well in cold water and drain thoroughly.

Set out all the ingredients and place within reach of a clean, dry chopping board. Half fill a bowl big enough to fit the wrappers in with warm water, and then dunk one in the water and continue patting until it becomes pliable, but not completely soft. Lay flat on the chopping board.

Arrange lettuce horizontally towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. Top with protein in a horizontal line, then top your protein with a line of herb leaves. Add a pinch of carrot and red bell pepper with a few cucumber sticks, and then add a small clump of rice vermicelli noodles. Finish with some shredded lettuce and a line of crushed peanuts.

Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly up over the filling, and then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate, join-side down. Cover rolls with lettuce leaves to keep them fresh.

Once all the rolls are made, prepare your peanut sauce. Whisk all the ingredients. Adjust to taste if necessary.