So the first weekend of Coachella is less than 2 weeks away, but don’t freak out! We still have plenty of time to get ourselves properly primed for the myriad of pool parties and marathon of shows. By now you’ve got to be feeling pretty good! In weeks 1 and 2 you cut out all sugars and sugar substitutes, refined carbs, soy and dairy, and you’ve started drinking loads of water and eating a double rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Now that’s a major accomplishment! But we can’t just stop there… We can take it deeper, we can get even more primal…
1. Cut out ALL grains
Yes, I’m serious. This means no wheat, no rice, no corn, no barley, no buckwheat, no quinoa, no farro, no rye, none of your beloved spelt, no Ezekiel bread, or whole grain anything. I’m aware that this sounds controversial and contradictory to common health advice, and I’m sure you think I’m nuts, and that’s fine with me. I know too that I told you to eat whole grains a few weeks ago, but I was really using that as a tool to wean you off of the “hard stuff”. I’ve been grain-free for 2 months now and I’ve never felt better in my life, so I’m recommending that you give it a whirl for a measly 2 weeks. Here’ why:
For starters, you’re probably gluten-intolerant. It’s estimated that 30-40% of people of European descent are, and on top of that grains are known to promote a sexy gastrointestinal reaction called “leaky gut syndrome.” This happens when the phytic-acid contained in grains blocks your body’s ability to digest grains in the stomach, resulting in teensy weensy bits of food sneaking thru your intestinal lining and into your body. This signals our immune system release the hounds, attacking the rogue food bits via a protective reaction called “acute inflammation” (not actually cute at all) that can manifest as bloating, gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, mental fogginess, joint pain and skin rashes. And because phytic-acid blocks the body from absorbing crucial nutrients, it’s possible to be malnourished even when we (try to) eat a balanced diet.
In the long-term all of this can lead to chronic inflammation, which as I’ve pointed out in weeks 1 and 2, can cause arthritis, cancer, heart disease, allergies, tooth decay, crohn’s disease, irritable bowl syndrome, and accelerated aging. All of those things are major bummers and no one (except me and your doctor) wants to hear about your bad teeth or gastrointestinal woes, so let’s avoid them at all costs, k?
And here’s my armchair attempt at anthropology – in the scope of the million or so years of human evolution grains were seriously late to the party, showing up on the scene (for those of us of European descent) about 7000 years ago, and for Americans specifically, as little as 300 years ago. Know how they figured out when grains became a predominant source of calories for humans? Teeth. A marked decline of dental health is a major clue to archeologists signaling grain consumption. So what did we learn today class? Grains are for the birds.
2. Give up the hooch
Awww no fun! Yah, yah… I know this one will be hard for many of you, but in the realm of detoxing, it’s a no-brainer. I don’t even feel like I should have to explain this one, but for the sake of cementing it into your psyche, I’ll let a bunch of other people do it for me.
Alcohol worsens (and may cause) depression and memory loss. It could make you fat. Even moderate drinking dramatically increases a lady’s risk for breast cancer (3 or more drinks a day = a 50% increase in risk!!). It seriously impairs judgement, causes dehydration (SO bad for your skin), and if taken just right, it can kill you! Woot woot! Go booze!
And you know those amazing headaches you get from your crippling hangovers? They’re a reaction to dehydration; your poor organs are so thirsty that they look to the body’s biggest reservoir – the brain, for a sip of water. In turn this causes your brain to shrink and tug on the membranes that fasten it to your skull, thus causing pain and a serious case of the dumb-dumbs.
3. Add in some good fats
I’m here to tell you that not all fats are evil! Amen! Hallelujah! In fact, if eaten properly they can help us lose weight, reduce inflammation, improve skin, hair and nails, and improve our cholesterol. And now that you’ve ditched grain-derived carbs and sugars you should definitely use healthy fats at every meal as an excellent and satiating form of nourishment. Here is a list of my fat-faves and why they rule.
Avocados: These lil babies are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and contain active compounds that may inhibit cancer growth. They’re also an awesome source of the antioxidant vitamin E.
Organic Unpasteurized Clarified or Cultured Grass-fed Butter: In modest amounts this is a good source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) a fatty acid shown to promote weight loss and possible cancer prevention. And since it contains almost none of the milk sugars (lactose) found in other dairy products it makes the grade.
Organic Eggs: A great way to get choline- a nutrient that is essential to brain function, specifically memory retention. Eggs are also an inexpensive and amazing source of protein, plus at 75 calories a piece they’re a bargain on any plate. If you can, get pastured eggs, they’re naturally high in CLA and Omega 3 and outrageously delicious.
Walnuts, Flax Seeds + Oil, and Chia Seeds: All amazing vegetarian sources of protein and Omega 3 (which helps reduce inflammation), and a great way to get fiber to boot.
Coconut: The medium-chain-fatty-acids (MCFA’s) in virgin coconut oil and butter act as a metabolic primer, like throwing gasoline on your internal fat burning furnace, they also contain potent antimicrobial properties that slay a broad range of pathogens in the body. Another source of similar MCFA’s? Breast milk. No wonder coconuts are so rad!
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Another supercharged source of monounsaturated heart-healthy fat, olive oil also contains polyphenols, compounds that are both anti-inflamatory and antimicrobial, and improve skin quality by reducing oxidative stress from sunburn and pollution (Angelenos, take note!)
Organic Raw Nuts and Seeds, Butters and Cold-Pressed Oils: Rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, nuts and seeds are indispensable to vegetarians as an unparalleled source of protein, fiber, and minerals.
Oily Cold-Water Fish and Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil: Salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring are all delicious high-protein sources of Omega 3. In addition to this (or if you’re not into eating fish) take a high-grade fish oil supplement everyday, they’re proven to destroy inflammation better than pretty much anything on the planet.
No Grains!? What the f*%&# am I supposed to eat!?
There is nothing contained in a grain that you can’t get elsewhere. The fiber, minerals, vitamins, nutrients and proteins you get in grains can all be found in richer quantities in fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, nuts, beans and legumes, seeds and high quality animal products. And seriously, you really didn’t need all those carbs anyway, you’ll get plenty of energy from the rest of your diet. As you cut out the grains and add in good fats and proteins you’ll discover your life-force skyrocketing and your appetite becoming far less voracious.
So what are my go-to snack buddies? Guacamole and sweet potato chips (Terra makes the BEST unsalted sweet potato chips on the planet), carrot sticks and hummus, apples with cinnamon and almond butter, dates stuffed with peanut butter, trail mix, Lara Bars, and my most recent obsession worthy treat… single serving Artisana Coconut Butter packets. Sure they’re a bit pricey, but their convenience and off-the-charts snackability more than make up for the cost.
But I’m SO stressed out! I need a drink!
This is an excellent time to examine what the heck is stressing you out so much and to find new ways to de-stress that don’t involve alcohol. For starters, just giving yourself 10 minutes a day of uninterrupted quiet-time to relax without the tv/phone/ipad/computer/stereo/child/spouse/roommate/pet/traffic/parent/coworker all up in your grill can do wonders.Try a form of meditation (I swear by Transcendental Meditation) or just sit comfortably in a quiet room and tune out the world.
Then brew yourself a pot of tea, a drink that has been associated with stress relief for eons. Just the warmth from the mug is enough to help you uncoil from a long day of sitting in traffic, and recent studies have shown that a cup of black tea may help reduce the stress induced hormone cortisol, a hormone that is also associated with muffin top… now that’s a win win!
Other activities that inspire dangerous levels of relaxation include: taking a hot bath, stretching, working out, cleaning your room, getting a massage, lighting candles, and listening to some sexy feel-good music (I can highly recommend the Serge Gainsbourg station on Pandora). Basically I’m asking you to get romantical with yourself, hell you could even set the table and enjoy a nice home-cooked dinner with one of my easy-peasy recipes.
Pan Seared Salmon with Avocado Mango Chutney
1 mango cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 avocado cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 tomato cut up into 1/2 inch dice (when in season)
3 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 small lemon
½ small red onion, small dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 wild-caught salmon fillets (skin-on), each about 6 ounces and 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick
Sea salt and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons coconut or olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients for the chutney and set aside.
3. Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed oven proof skillet (preferably cast-iron) for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Pat the salmon fillets dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper.
4. Add fat to pan and swirl to coat. When oil shimmers (but does not smoke) add fillets skin side down and cook, without moving fillets until skin side is well browned and the bottom half of fillets turn opaque, about 3 minutes. Turn fillets and cook, without moving them for an additional 2 minutes. Flip the fillets back over and place the entire pan into the oven for 4 minutes or until they are no longer translucent on the exterior and are firm, but not hard when gently squeezed. Remove fillets from pan; let stand 1 minute. Serve immediately with the mango chutney spooned over the top.
French Lentil and Green Pea Salad
2 cups cooked French lentils
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas (thawed)
1 cup roughly chopped arugula
½ cup fresh chopped mint
½ cup roughly chopped pistachios
1/2 red onion, small dice
2 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon (if available)
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons very good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Maldon salt (or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt)
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss well. Let the salad rest for at least 10 minutes, and up to 45 minutes before serving.