It used to be that I had all the stamina in the world to stick with a cleanse, for days, even weeks at a time, but those are the days of yore. Currently I can’t withstand anything remotely cleanse related and the crazy part about that is I naturally eat SUPER WELL, like really well but the moment I get it into my head that I’m even remotely restricted – my mind goes crazy! I’m suddenly starving and all I can think about is what I “can’t have” therefore the entire premise of a cleanse is entirely lost on me. Recently however, my interest was piqued to try a soup cleanse after meeting Nicole Centeno, founder of Splendid Spoon and reading her Soup Cleanse Cookbook – mainly because soup still feels like food and not a juice cleanse. I need to chew.

I tasked myself with going for the one day “cleanse” – this means soup all day! Followed by a week of meal supplementing – basically swap one meal all week for soup.  I was game, perhaps a soup cleanse was a way to reset eating habits without feeling deprived.

However, when I failed miserably at the actual program by dinner of day one – I had to eat a salad, albeit made of cucumbers and avocado, with lemon and olive oil, it was a salad nonetheless – I triumphed at the mindfulness and felt that I walked away having really absorbed a few of the finer points in her book. So while the cleanse in it’s purist form is not necessarily for me, this is:

Plant-based Nuitrition

I’m already mainly plant-based, but I did like the idea of simply giving my diet a plant rich boost, which can be really easy to do with soup. I also  learned that by slow-cooking your veggies you increases the amount of nutrients your body can use from them. This method of cooking can give you a major intake of beta-carotene, lycopene and a host of vitamins like K, D and E. Plus when you add in healthy fats like olive oil your body is better able to absorb all these awesome nutrients.

This is A+ in other words.

Practical for the Modern Woman

Love this concept. Basically eating healthy has to be easy in order for it to successfully be incorporated into our busy lives because when diet plans require you to overhaul your entire lifestyle, it’s simply not sustainable. The focus should be more on making small changes that have big impact and thinking about healthy eating habits with some flexibility because going out for a glass of wine with a friend is as important to feeling good as eating well is!

Intermittent Fasting:

This is something that I already practice and am a firm believer in the power of letting your body rest between meals – for example, I only eat full meals and I don’t snack after dinner (or ever for that matter) and I leave at least 12 hours between dinner and the first meal of the following day. Nicole talks at length in her book on the benefits of boosting your metabolism and shedding unwanted weight through periods of lowering your caloric intake.

Mindful Eating:

A beautiful practice. Savor and enjoy. According to Nicole, mindful eating is about “embracing food as a tool to help you stay present by activating all five senses.” In short, make mealtime a moment to savor and enjoy. That’s it. Slow down, put the phone away and pay attention to each bite you take. The result is twofold, you really enjoy the flavors of the meal and you tend to eat less when you’re not rushing through your meal absent-mindedly putting food in your mouth.

A recipe from the book:

Spring Pea with Cashew Cream

Peas are in the legume family and a great source of protein and fiber – this soup tastes light but will keep you full for hours. The green is bright and just right for spring!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, roughly chopped 
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 pounds shelled English peas or frozen green peas, about 5 cups 
2 cups water plus 2 cups as needed
pinch of sea salt and pepper
peel of half lemon grated plus juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
1 quart ice
1⁄4 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight and drained

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Cook the scallions and garlic for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is soft and translucent.

2. Stir in the peas, 2 cups of the water, pepper, and salt, cover, and cook for about 8 minutes. (If using frozen peas. cook for about 5 minutes.)

3. Remove the pot from the stove. Add the lemon peel, lemon juice, mint, and ice. Using and immersion blender or countertop blender, puree for 3 to 4 minutes, or until very smooth and cool, adding the remaining water as needed to reach this consistency.

4. In a countertop blender or food processor, combine the cashews with 1/4 cup of the remaining water. Blend until smooth.

2. Serve immediately in a chilled bowl with a dollop of the cashew cream.


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