Should You Cleanse? + A Summery Chopped Kale Salad with Grilled Strawberries

Different quick-fix diets are always trendy, and more recently, everyone has been all about "cleansing," especially when it comes to juicing. Cleanses are nothing new-- the infamous Master Cleanse (tea, lemonade, maple syrup and cayenne pepper) has been around since the 1940s, but the recent interest in health-conscious eating has caused dieters and healthy eaters alike to turn to juice cleanses in hopes of detoxifying their bodies and maybe shedding a few pounds in the process. 

The healthiness of these cleanses has been debated, and while I plan to go into some of the pros and cons of juicing at the end of this post, I first want to add in a personal anecdote.

Now let me just specify something-- everyone's body is different and can handle different food groups, longer periods of time without eating, different dietary choices to function, etc. I don’t cleanse because I know it won’t work with MY body. I know personally that if I don't eat every few hours, my brain becomes cloudy, I get irritable and I can't focus. I also have a relationship with food that goes beyond just nutritional nourishment-- I love the taste of a satisfying dish, and creating different recipes gives me as much pleasure as actually enjoying the food. Drinking liquids all day just leaves me craving the sensation of chewing, a crunch in my mouth, food being swallowed. 

With that being said, juice cleanses make no sense for ME. I get a plethora of fruits and vegetables in my everyday diet, I need solid food to feel grounded, and if I ever feel like I have been consistently eating poorly and need to "detox" my body, I stick to fresh fruits and vegetables and clean foods like quinoa and legumes—food groups that make me feel good both mentally and physically, but also keep me feeling satiated.

Does this mean I won't have a green smoothie for breakfast on occasion? No. But for me, the negatives of a juice cleanse definitely outweigh the positives. Juice cleanses are too high in sugar for me, make me feel like I'm not eating varied meals and probably aren't necessary for me, considering our bodies naturally detox themselves, and I am not lacking in plant-based nutrients.

So when would a cleanse be good for someone? A short cleanse could be beneficial for a person who has consistently poor eating habits, who is lacking in essential nutrients, and who may need a drastic way a kick start healthy eating habits.

If you do decide to do a cleanse because you think your body needs it, try this Dr. Oz Detox Cleanse, as it is sure to be balanced and includes other essential nutrients that aren’t just found in fruits and vegetables.

So now, as promised, here are just a few of the pros and cons of undertaking a cleanse. Take a look at this list and try to be in touch with your body to see if this makes sense for you. 

  • Juice cleansing can be a good way to get in an abundance of concentrated nutrients from fruits and vegetables, especially if your diet is currently poor
  • You are giving your body a break from toxins such as refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, gluten and processed foods
  • It gives your digestive system a break while still allowing you to absorb nutrients easily
  • Some people report feeling more energetic, lighter and clearer while on a juice cleanse.
  • You lose important fiber when you juice. Fiber helps with heart health, digestion and satiety (feeling full), so you lose those benefits from your produce when you juice them. 
  • It can be expensive. You either have to buy an expensive juicer, or you can do a preset cleanse, which can cost $70 and upwards. 
  • Juicing can be high in sugar and calories, due to the concentrated amount of fruit juice in many drinks. If you want to minimize sugar and calorie intake, stick to vegetable-heavy drinks rather than fruit ones. You can also balance out the nutrients by adding protein to your drink such as almond butter or Greek yogurt. 
  • You're leaving out important nutrients only found in other food groups.
Additional, in-depth research may be necessary for you to decide before undertaking a detox. I can tell you right now, though, if this is just a way to lose weight, cleansing is not the answer. This would fall under the category of an ineffective, quick-fix diet, with only temporary results. Any weight you may lose in a day or two WILL return, and you might even slow down your metabolism in the process. 

Now onto the recipe! This salad may be the next best thing to juicing. Filled with fruits and vegetables, it is the perfect amount of sweet and savory that reminds me of a tropical summer-- and grilling strawberries in coconut oil is one of the best things I have discovered! I will definitely be eating those again.

Summery Chopped Kale Salad with Grilled Strawberries

Two big leaves of fresh kale, chopped finely
2 green onions
1/2 an avocado
5 medium strawberries
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
1/3 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
A handful of microgreens
Olive Oil 
Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 Limes
1 tsp coconut Oil

1. Chop your kale finely, then massage by pouring a little bit of olive oil over the leaves and kneading with your hands. Chop basil and avocado and set aside.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a medium pan on medium heat. Add the green onion stalks and whole strawberries onto the pan. Cook until outside is well done (just a little blackened) and flip the strawberries a few times to cook on all sides. Onions and strawberries should look grilled. Set them aside.

3. In the same pan, toss the chickpeas for about 1 minute with a generous sprinkle of both parsley and cumin.

4. Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl (or arrange them beautifully!) with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with the juice of one or two limes, depending on how much lime flavor you want on your dressing.

Optional: I didn't try this, but after I finished, I thought it might be tasty to add a little bit of unsweetened, shredded coconut to enhance texture and bring out the tropical flavor. Let me know what you think if you decide to give this edition a try!

(Serves 1)