A few weeks ago, I decided to challenge myself. After way too much eating out since my trip to Dubai and feeling a bit gross, I scoured the internet for something that wasn’t a diet and wasn’t an extreme cleanse. This turned out a bit harder than expected, but then I stumbled across the book for the Conscious Cleanse.
The Conscious Cleanse looked like exactly what I was looking for, minimal girly diet language, still allowed to eat, no expensive strange ingredients. Basically I just wanted something that would cut all the crap food out of my life for a couple weeks and force me to cook at home.
As a disclaimer, it’s not specifically vegan, but all dairy, cheese, eggs etc. aren’t on the list of things you can eat. There is one small section in the back with recipes for meat, but this is easily ignored and there’s not much mention of meat in the book.
Basically, the Conscious Cleanse removed all of the top allergens from your diet for two weeks. This means no coffee, alcohol, soy, gluten, sugar, peanuts and also no sugar, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant), peppers, and no chocolate. The horror!
It was just the type of challenge I needed.
Back in 2011, I did something similar and I ate only raw food for a week. This time I had been eating way too much spaghetti at home and it was the perfect way to force myself to try some new ingredients, get used to preparing food for work again instead of ordering from the Vietnamese place down the street and kick myself back into a better routine. With this cleanse, you’re still allowed to eat whenever you want, which I thought was awesome.
For me though, no matter how much I ate, it was pretty impossible to come up with anything too unhealthy. Though I’m sure if I had done it longer I would have found away.
Doing the Conscious Cleanse is also a good way to determine if you’re allergic to anything. Since by the end you’ve weened yourself off of most allergens, you’re a clean slate to introduce them back one at a time at the end to see if you’re allergic or intolerant to anything. It was an interesting experiment.
Here are some of the things I ate:
Soup with a broth I made by throwing some fresh ginger, garlic and mushrooms with some water in a sauce pan, then adding broccoli and whatever other veggies I had on hand.
Lettuce wrap with the Sunny Sunflower Dressing from the Conscious Cleanse Book with some cooked brown lentils and mushrooms plus some celery. The goal of the book is to eat mostly raw foods until dinner. I mostly succeeded, but obviously there were cooked lentils above. I like that the book just urged you to try the best you could. The weather was a bit dark while I was doing the cleanse so sometimes I just needed something warm. Luckily there are lots of recipes in the book for inspiration, you could plan all of your meals from there if you wanted.
Making raw lasagna without any tomatoes was difficult, but I think this came out tasty regardless. More of the Sunny Sunflower Dressing made from blending raw sunflower seeds with fresh carrots, olive oil and spices. I think it made a great sauce for this, even if it’s not the proper red color for lasagna. I sliced zucchini as thin as I could (need to work on this) longways for the “noodles” and filled it with my Raw Cashew Cheese. One of my best lunches and I even stuck to the raw guideline! Bad picture as I was trying to document it at work without looking like a freak.
Tomato-free Raw Lasagna before cutting!
The first week I was having trouble adjusting to my new dietary guidelines, but I was able to be way more creative during the second week. I found some giant mushrooms at the store and stuffed them with a dish I made with millet and veggies, added some defrosted frozen spinach, garlic, whizzed it quickly in the food processor and then stuffed the mushrooms and baked for 15-20 minutes. I have a new appreciation for stuffed mushrooms.
These were my favorite recipe from the Conscious Cleanse book that I tried. They are called Protein-Packed Almond Butter Balls and they’re made from dates, vanilla and almond butter whizzed together in the food processor then coated with coconut flakes and hemp seeds. For the ones above I used coconut flour because that’s what I had and left out the hemp seeds. I made these three times during the cleanse. 🙂 Often I ended up eating an apple with raw almond butter and a few of these for breakfast.
Some rice noodle veggie soup, just lots of veggies cooked in water with garlic and ginger. No processed sugar is allowed so I mostly threw together my own broth.
Some brown rice and broccoli and kale topped with the Tahini Dipping Sauce recipe from the book. I wasn’t a huge fan of this sauce for this purpose, but it was okay. Maybe it’d be better actually as a dipping sauce like the book stated.
My first green smoothie ever! This was the Swiss Cinnamon Smoothie from the book. It was made from blueberries, banana, baby Swiss chard (the baby kind was the only I could find here out of season), cinnamon, hemp seeds and water. Not bad!
I cooked up some dried pinto beans, added onions, garlic and a bit of olive oil and cooked them again to made some refried beans. I then topped that with lettuce, onion and avocado. Not a bad lunch!
Another lunch. A bit salad with some homemade guacamole on top. Raw cashews added to that and some raw flax seed crackers to round it off. The crackers convinced me that I should consider getting a dehydrator because they were awesome. If you’re in Germany/Europe, you can check out these Lifefood organic raw crackers here. They have a lot of flavors, I believe the one I had was the garlic marjoram.
This was another new food. Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Porridge also from the Conscious Cleanse book. I topped it with fresh blueberries and cinnamon. I think the almond milk and vanilla extract sealed the deal on this one and this recipe inspired me to play around more with buckwheat. Would be even better as a summer breakfast on a warm sunny day with even more fresh fruits!
Bad photo, some more steamed veggies with rice. Something simple and easy after work.
Not pictured, but the cleanse made me discover a new love of green apples with raw almond butter. I also was supposed to drink a big cup of hot water with lemon every morning and a smaller mug in the evening. I actually really enjoyed this ritual by the end and found it okay to replace coffee. Throughout the cleanse I also drank a bunch of Vanilla Rooibos tea, occasionally also with some maple or agave syrup and a bit of almond milk.
By now you’re probably wondering if I felt any different. I was to be careful about being too “lose weight! diet!”-y because I sorta hate that crap. It did make me feel better and less exhausted and dragged down. Ever since Dubai my skin has been driving me nuts as well and the cleanse definitely got that under control.
I was curious about whether I maybe had an intolerance to soy or wheat so I introduced those two back slowly after the cleanse, but the rest came all at once because it was my birthday a week after I finished. 😉
My body was a bit mad when I started introducing everything back, but I didn’t notice any specific issues so I think I’m safe. Rather I’ll try to mix up my diet more with alternate grains and some gluten-free cooking but not rule it out entirely. I also plan to replace soy milk with almond milk when I can, since I already eat so much other soy. The hot lemon water will also stay in my repertoire.
Overall, it was a good experience. The cleanse served its purpose to get me cooking again and to change my routine. I also crave eating out less a bit than I did before and am excited to try some gluten-free experiments.
When I read reviews of the Conscious Cleanse online, most people talked about how horrible it was to not drink coffee. I didn’t find that part so difficult to be honest as I always go in waves with my coffee addiction. I had a headache the second day, but who knows if it was from that. The hardest part for me was definitely not being able to eat potatoes, tomatoes, tomato sauce and use soy sauce as a seasoning. It made me really realize that I need to get out there and try some new ideas rather than relying on throwing some soy or tomato sauce on everything, however good they are.
Have you ever done a cleanse? Which one? What did you think?
Now I just need to find some awesome recipes to use up my leftover millet, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. Ideas, gluten-free friends? I’m excited to experiment!