Ahh juice cleanses. It seems like everyone is doing them and exclaiming how amazing they feel during and after their cleanse. Well, I did two juice cleanses in 2014 and I can tell you that those people who felt great during their cleanse were kidding themselves.
I used Jus by Julie both times I cleansed and I loved the juices (the Spicy Lemonade...yes, just yes). The first cleanse was 3 days long and I was supposed to drink six juices a day, that’s it. This was doomed from the start. I poorly planned when I would do the cleanse; it was from Wednesday to Friday, Friday being Valentine’s Day. Let’s reflect on this. A single girl in Manhattan on her third day of drinking only juice on Single Awareness Day. How did this turn out you might be wondering? My best friend and I split a meatball pizza at his apartment and went out drinking (alcohol, not juice) in Hoboken. Classic.
So I admit, my first cleansing experience going ary is on me. Regardless of the final day taking place on the famous Hallmark holiday, I craved chewing something from the very start. I had a moment of weakness and ate a few of the mini, party-sized Trader Joes meatballs at the end of day two (and I’m just now only realizing that meatballs are my demise). The best part of this whole 3-day failure, was that both of my roommates decided to try the juice cleanse on their own and failed as well. Maybe we aren’t cut out for this.
My second cleanse was the 5-day until dinner cleanse, where you drink four juices and then eat a solid, healthy dinner. This was my kind of cleanse. The main reason why I originally struggled was not being able to chew actual food. I could handle four yummy juices during the day and whip up a healthy dinner! To my surprise, I did quite well with this cleanse. Day two was a little difficult, because I substituted dinner on day one with brunch, so I hadn’t chewed anything in well over 24 hours. I spent the entire second day fantasizing about what I was going to cook for dinner. I had sticky notes all over my desk with what I was going to buy at Trader Joe’s and what sort of delicious and healthy meal I would make.
I finally decided on a super amazing avocado toast with sauteed kale and a poached egg. I love poached eggs; there really isn’t anything better than a beautifully runny yolk and meaty egg whites. So, I went to TJ’s and bought some hearty multi-grain bread and was devastated when I picked up the avocados. They were rock solid. There was no way I would be able to use this for avocado toast. I decided that I would make the meal anyway, just without avocado and a lot more kale. Thus, my kale toast was born. To top it off, I made a yummy harissa-agave dressing. I first used harissa this past Thanksgiving, making harissa and maple glazed rainbow carrots, and decided to continue my streak of using the North African chili paste. My kale toast helped me survive my cleanse. I could have had a different dinner each day, but I was so proud of my kale toast creation that I kept eating it. I even had it for breakfast this morning.
All in all, I found that the 5-day juice until dinner cleanse was much easier than the 3-day juice only cleanse. Depriving yourself of solid foods for an extended period of time is just obnoxious in my opinion, and it is really unnatural. My very wise colleague put it best: “you kids these days with your cleanses, you starve yourselves. I’ll enjoy my meatball parm.” I refer to her as my guru for a reason (and we both like meatballs). I have to agree with her, I don’t know very many people (maybe besides my mom) who has felt significant, life altering effects from a juice cleanse. I think the major takeaway of cleanses is to simply eat healthy. A 3-day cleanse will not solve all of your problems. It might help reset your body to start leading a more healthy lifestyle, but if you don’t plan on using the cleanse as a launch pad then I wouldn’t waste your time or money.
Carly’s Kale Toast:
In a saucepan, saute in some olive oil or coconut oil a healthy amount of kale (it shrinks when it cooks!). Toss the kale while cooking to ensure that it evenly cooks. Depending on how you like your kale, you should let it cook for about 5-7 minutes. I like to have some more well-done, crispy pieces so I tend to cook it longer.
Meanwhile, bring to boil a pot of water. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add about a teaspoon of white vinegar. Crack an egg in a small bowl or ramekin. Stir the simmering water so that a whirlpool is created and slowly submerge the rim of the ramekin into the water, sliding the egg into the water. Cover the pot and let the egg poach for about 3-4 minutes, until whites are set and yolk still runny. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Combine two tablespoons of harissa, a half a tablespoon of agave syrup, a quarter teaspoon of minced garlic, the juice of half of a lemon, salt and pepper in a glass jar or other container. If you find that the dressing is too thick, you can always add a touch of coconut water, olive oil, water, or any other liquid to loosen it. You should also note that the harissa I use is pretty mild, there are varieties out there that are incredibly spicy, so you might want to use less depending on your palette. The dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
Toast a thick slice of hearty, multigrain bread. Pile the kale on top of the toast, squeeze some lemon juice on top, season with salt and pepper. Add the poached egg on top of the kale, again seasoning with salt (I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel) and pepper. Finish it off with some of the harissa-agave dressing. ENJOY.