Welcome to Week 2 of the 4-week Coachella Challenge! If you’ve been sticking to the plan since last Monday, I bet you’re already feeling healthier and more fabulous! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out Week 1, then pull up your bootstraps and get ready to get SERIOUS.
Last week we cut out sugar and refined carbs, two of the biggest baddies in the world of health and nutrition. Give yourselves major pat on the back, because you basically just deleted the food-equivalent of a nicotine and cocaine sandwich with heroin sauce (on the side) from your diets. BRAVO! You also started drinking way more water than you were before, so you must be feeling pretty hydrated. All that peeing? That means it’s working. Adios Toxins!
So what cruel and unusual things am I going to ask you to do this week? Well I’m so glad you asked! For starters…
1. Ditch the soy products
Soy is one of the most genetically modified crops on the planet and can be found in one form or another in roughly 60% of all the processed foods on the shelf, and 85% of the fats and oils we consume are soy based. It’s estimated that Americans consume up to 20% of their calories from products containing soy. But soy is supposed to be good for us, right?
Soy products contain high amounts of omega 6, an essential fatty acid (the essential part means that we can’t make it on our own). We all need a good balance of omega 6’s to omega 3’s (think 2:1) for our bodies to function – omega 6 helps to cause inflammation (think a sprained ankle) and omega 3’s reduce inflammation. Thanks in part to the totally out of control use of soy-oil and isolated soy protein in so many of the foods we eat, America’s omega ratio is about 25:1, causing chronic low-level inflammation that over time can promote cancer, heart disease, arthritis and all around lookin’ old.
Soy also contains phytic acid (an antinutrient) that blocks out body’s ability to absorb important minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium, and it provides a wealth of phytoestrogens which are plant-based estrogens. When consumed, these phytoestrogens masquerade as our own estrogens and can potentially plus-up your risk for breast cancer, endometriosis, infertility, and low libido. And for all my man-friends out there, over time these estrogen-bandits can lower your sex-drive and may possibly even cause… um… man boobs. I think I’ve said enough.
2. Cut out the dairy
Humans are the only animals on the planet who continue to drink milk into adulthood, and we’re sure as hell the only ones who voluntarily drink it from another species. Dairy cows are fed a delicious array of pesticide, hormone, GMO, steroid, and antibiotic-laden feed that goes directly into their milk products and in turn, directly into us. Yum. Even if you’re buying organic, you’re still consuming mega-hormones, which can cause all sorts of problems ranging from acne to prostate, ovarian and breast cancers, and I don’t know about you but I’d like to keep my sexy bits in tact.
Dairy products also contribute to an overall acidic environment in our bodies, a condition that stresses out our delicate systems and like soy, causes inflammation (notice a trend here?). I mean, if you could potentially slow your roll on the signs of aging while preventing cancer wouldn’t you dump that latte right in the trash? Not even a fancy $8 Intelligentsia coffee with a bird in the foam can seduce me!
In addition to all that, roughly 75% of the world population is lactose intolerant, gee I wonder why…? Maybe because we’re not baby cows? Milk, cheese, ice cream, lattes… they’re all incredibly mucus forming, and can cause major stomach upset; so while going out for gelato may be a cute idea for a date, the phlegmy, gassy aftermath does not entice a hot makeout sesh.
3. Eat the rainbow
Fruits and vegetables are effing delicious and for the most part come right off the tree/out of the ground/off the vine, crammed full of nutrients and good to go. They provide a wealth of flavors, colors, and textures that wake up our all-too-often tranquilized palates. Everyday we should strive to eat at least 8-10 servings of fruit and veg that span the color of the rainbow (like skittles, but healthier!). And those colors aren’t just for aesthetics; each one represents a unique phytonutrient (ie: fancy plant chemical) that descends upon our bodies like tiny little ninjas, battling free-radicals, inflammation, blood clots, tumors, and aging.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
Ok, so I know you think I’m taking away all your old bffs, but really, sugar, refined carbs, dairy and soy are total frenemies who talk mad shit behind your back; they just don’t love you the way I do. So that’s why I’m going to give you a hand with some more helpful hints.
But I’m a vegetarian, how can I live without soy?
For the rest of us, the only major challenge of kicking soy is in making sure that we’re mindful of what we eat and are diligent about reading labels, other than that we can live without it. But you my dears have been lead to believe by the ever trustworthy media that soy is a wonderfood crucial to your diets. Not so! You can get all the protein you need from nuts, nut butters, seeds, beans, legumes and many vegetables. Raw almond butter, lentil soup, hummus, chia seeds, cashew cheese, black bean chili; there’s a whole world of wonderfully unprocessed protein sources just waiting for you!
And stop right there, I know what you’re going to say… But what about fermented soy products like tempeh, miso and shoyu? Yes, they are definitely a healthier form of soy chock full of probiotics, but soy nonetheless, and for the purposes of this detox I recommend that they be avoided as well. If when you end this challenge you think you’re dying without these products, then add them back in, sparingly. But try to steer clear of soy milk and tofu, which are highly processed. And check yourself on edamame, it can be a little rough on the tum tum, if you get bloated after eating it, you may want to rethink your snack.
No milk? How will I get my calcium? What about my bones??
The whole milk/calcium thing is a major myth drummed up by the dairy council, remember a minute ago when I said that dairy creates an acidic environment in our bodies? Well guess what neutralizes acid in our bodies? That’s right, calcium! And where does our body keep it’s calcium? In our teeth and bones. So… wait, you mean the very calcium that we’re trying to consume from dairy is causing us to deplete our teeth and bones?? YES! See how that works? It doesn’t!
There are many wonderful foods that contain loads of calcium and don’t have an acidic impact on our bodies- any and all dark leafy greens, beans, seaweeds, broccoli, almonds, sesame seeds and tahini… all living things on this planet contain calcium. If we eat a balanced diet and make sure we’re getting enough vitamin D (a crucial component of bone health) we should be just fine. Try some almond milk in your coffee, or better yet, coconut milk (I’ll talk more about that wonder-nut next week). After all, studies have shown that countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Bone health without the nasty milk mustache? That’s something I can drink to.
Here’s something you can sink your teeth into:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
½ teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, minced
¼ cup toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare Brussels sprouts by removing the tough base/stem with a pairing knife, remove and discard any discoloured leaves and cut in half vertically. Pull apart each half so the larger leaves are separated from the core, the leaves should crisp up nicely, and the cores will remain tender once roasted.
In a large bowl toss the Brussels sprout leaves, cores, salt, pepper, chili flakes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar until well combined.
Spread out onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and roast until Brussels begin to brown and crisp at the edges, about 15 minutes. Toss back in to the bowl while hot with the minced shallot and nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Gingery Vegetables with Turmeric and Coconut
½ lb broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
½ lb cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
3 carrots, sliced into 1/8” rounds
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 ½ Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup water
juice of ½ – 1 lime (to taste)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
Blanch and shock broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots till just tender. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and ginger, season with salt and pepper and cook till golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans and the turmeric and cook, stirring, till fragrant. Add the coconut milk, water, and bring to a simmer. Stir in vegetables, season with salt, pepper, lime-juice to taste and cilantro. Serve immediately.