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Mountain Connection

Food cleanse: good, bad & ugly, plus recipe

09/28/2013 12:21, Published by Jacqueline, Categories: Health+Wellness

by Nancy Bluhm

A friend told me an adventure is anything on which you embark but don’t know what the outcome will be.

My husband and I embarked on a food adventure in mid-July, a food cleanse. Jon had been trying to sort out health issues with diet changes for several years. For me it was one of those adventures where you have no idea why you are along. It just sounded novel and worth trying.

For three weeks we were to consume no corn, peanuts, grains, sugar (or substitutes), eggs, dairy, regular potatoes or alcohol. So that left meat, beans, vegetables, seeds, most fruits, some nuts.

To most Vegans, I am sure this sounds like a bounty of food. We’d been considered the healthy eaters among most who know us and we’d been use to protein and a salad for dinner.

Still we found ourselves saying, “What can we eat?” I considered myself a bread-aholic and had eaten peanut butter nearly daily since I was 5. So we wandered the kitchen trying to see beyond eggs, pancakes, cereal, lunch meat, cheese, and bread for breakfast and lunch. Luckily our nutritionist provided a life-saving breakfast recipe that sustained us until our daze cleared and we could think outside the traditional food box ourselves.

I didn’t miss what I had expected to miss. I didn’t physically miss the bread. I did miss the ease that bread had brought to meal planning. We had no “go to” meals on this new adventure. No nachos, pizza, cheese or crackers.

I confess we did miss the rituals of that glass of Malbec or a cold beer. That was probably the item we talked about the most. Then we talked about what it meant that that was the item we talked about the most!

Our psyches were so full of revamping our food pyramid we socialized less, ate out less. The vigilance of rooting out sugar or corn required our full attention. We could have unrolled sleeping bags in the aisles of Vitamin Cottage we spent so much money and time there. We did grow weary of thinking about every little thing that was in every single thing we put in our mouths. That morphed into a pleasure in the preparation and creativity.

We certainly reaped some health benefits from the cleanse. We have continued with the elimination of a number of items, and found some new favorites.
Ultimately the cleanse didn’t turn out to be about my relationship or sensitivity with food as much as my non-relationship with food. A new presence with my food replaced a dulled repetitive feeding.

However, we did nearly knock each other down racing to the wine cooler when we declared the cleanse officially over.

Eggless Breakfast-Sweet Potato Hash
1 1/2 TBS Ghee or Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 sweet potatoes cubed
1/2 onion diced
1/4 bell pepper
2 stalks celery
2 Cups kale
3-4 mushrooms
andouile sausage (meat of choice)               
(Vitamin Cottage’s had minimal added ingredients)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the Ghee in an oven proof container. Blend in the spices. Add sweet potatoes, onion, bell pepper, celery. Toss to coat. Roast for 15 min. Then blend in kale, sliced mushrooms, cooked meat. Cook another 15-20 minutes.

**We often microwave the cubed potatoes for 5 minutes prior to this to ensure they are soft when done. Trust me, this has a robust flavor.

That recipe was our beacon throughout our three-week cleanse. I kept hearing the words of our nutritionist who said, “You need to redefine breakfast.” Sure I have had my share of left over pizza for breakfast but that contains the traditional breakfast foods—bread, cheese, meat—just missing the eggs. 

But take all but the meat out of that equation and we wandered the kitchen like short-circuited robots, seeing only those foods we couldn’t have. Even with the love for our Eggless Hash, I still felt adrift. One day I noticed a beautiful small bowl my sister had made some years before. I used it as an occasional serving dish. Good cooks find the presentation as important as the flavor. Putting that bread-less, cheese-less, egg-less hash in this bowl enlivened my meal and nurtured my efforts. I found myself honoring the food in this bowl, as we are suppose to every meal, but rarely do.

We continue to eat this dish regularly. We have allowed ourselves to go out to eat with frivolity and delight in the sweet sugar, the filling pasta, the creamy cheeses.

But at home we eat corn free, sugar free, grain free, dairy free. Well, true confessions, there were some non-negotiable items for us. Cream in our coffee, dark chocolate, occasional Friday night popcorn.

There are some purists that feel even these few items are harmful. But we have found our balance with a few pleasing treats. People ask us why we continue on this path. We don’t find ourselves particularly sensitive to any of those things we removed. We found we didn’t miss so many items and I can tell my body likes it simpler.

Nancy Houser-Bluhm, who is a speech-language pathologist in Jeffco schools, is passionate about communication, oral, written or otherwise. She can be reached at

food cleanse nancy bluhm healthy eating

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