The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

7 Day Cleanse, and Beyond

I finished a 7 day cleanse recently: no sugar, caffeine, dairy, gluten, tobacco, alcohol or drugs!
OK let's be real, several of these subtractions weren't going to be a challenge, but no sugar, no caffeine, dairy or gluten?  Yikes!
And because it was a cleanse, lots and lots of water.  In fact, half of my weight in ounces!!  That meant about 72 ounces of water a day, and let me tell you from experience, you want to get most of that water in before 3 p.m., otherwise you'll be up all night getting all that water out!

Everything homemade, or if store-bought, no more than 5 ingredients.  Whole, fresh foods, made with love.  And best if ingredients are from local sources--the Carlisle Farmer's Market ( was a life saver mid-week, as was my CSA with the Dickinson College Organic Farm (

At the end of the week my husband and I visited Lil' Ponderosa Farm where they raise grass fed Angus beef, with virtually nothing artificial or imported.  It was really great to visit this pristine, unique enterprise, (yes I'm talking about a farm!),walk hill and dale, talk to the owners, and finally order beef.  We even found a big Red-Tailed Hawk feather to add to the collection.

I expected to really suffer during the cleanse, and experienced anxiety about withdrawing from my huge sugar fix and dedicated coffee consumption.  I dreaded the morning because I knew coffee was not waiting.  I moved the coffee machine to the closet, made sure my sugar stashes were empty (fridge, freezer, top shelf in the cupboard, office, studio, car--I'm not making this up), got in a bunch of really healthy organic nuts, seeds, fruits, eggs, and grains, and....felt terrible for 5 days!

Through a pounding head ache, I spent the following day cooking something I hoped would be rich and satisfying. That turned out to be Lentil Stew with as many veggies as I could possibly throw in.  I was heartened when I realized the lentil stew would easily take me through the week for lunches.
Then I made a vat of apple-pear sauce.  Dessert for the week.
And I kept drinking more water than it seemed possible to drink....

Glorious greens are a big part of this diet, but I don't have taste buds that revel in kale, swiss chard and dandelion greens--more's the pity, since they are packed with antioxidants, calcium and essential vitamins that I dearly need.  However, by the end of the week, I had figured out how to add baby kale to my morning smoothie, spinach in the scrambled eggs, and not feel like I was torturing myself.  Big Hazzah!

So, here is the recipe for the smoothies I've been enjoying--it's not much different than my old smoothie recipe, except now I get more power in the punch due to a few simple additions.

Monster Juice

1/2 C Coconut milk, unsweetened
Handful of organic berries (mix of strawberries and raspberries is good)
Banana or peeled/ cored apple
Big handful of kale
Big spoonful of almond butter
Tablespoon of Chia seeds
Couple of ice cubes
And whatever you can find

Mix it all up in the blender, pour into a fancy glass and use a straw to get every last drop.  And don't be afraid to experiment with ingredients....beets, butternut squash, pears, guava, kiwi, spinach, avocado,
other nut butters, flax seed, etc.

And this is the very simple, delicious recipe for Apple-Pear Sauce with Toasted Almonds:

6-8 Apples, cored, peeled and roughly chopped (I used freshly picked Red Delicious from Hollabough Orchard in Adams County (, picked with my little grand daughter!)
3-4 Anjou pears, cored, peeled and roughly chopped
Apple Cider
Raw slivered almonds, toasted in olive oil

Throw the fruit into a big stock pot, add apple cider (or water) about 1/2 inch up the side of pot, and bring to a sturdy simmer.  Keep an eye on the fruit and stir occasionally.  The fruit, depending on the type of apple, will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes to soften and mush.
Once the apples have reached the desired consistency, and this really is a personal preference, remove from the stovetop and roughly mash with a potato masher.
I like the sauce chunky, so this doesn't take much effort.  If however you like smooth sauce, add it in small batches to the blender once it is sufficiently cooled.
To serve, dish out the sauce, top with toasted almonds and a few shakes of cinnamon!

And the cleanse?  After day 5 my head aches disappeared and I was rewarded with an entirely different energy than I had ever felt--clear, sustained, calm, strong!
Still, I couldn't wait to experience that first taste of hot coffee on my tongue, with lots of sugar and cream.  The anticipation was so sweet! I retrieved the coffee maker from the closet and waved goodbye to my coffee fantasy, prepared everything so that all I had to do in the morning was press the ON button.
But something funny happened during those 8 hours of sleep--I woke up, made the coffee, took a few sips and knew I would not be going back to the coffee fix for awhile.  Damn.  No part of my mouth wanted it.
And later, even in decaf mode, I couldn't abide the sensation of that little artificial buzz and the slightly nasty mood it put me into, as if someone had made me intentionally grumpy!

Who did that?!?  Ummm, me?  Hadn't I made myself angry feeding my body caffeine and sugar the beautiful system didn't need?  What about that great energy I had discovered off these additives, which was proving to be far superior to anything I had ever experienced? Why trade the artificial, inferior energy for the real thing?  I downed the coffee, willing myself to love it, and wondering what was going on anyway?

Just for extra measure, I brewed coffee the following morning.  Drank it down almost grudgingly, what an odd feeling!.  At dinner, I did as I have done practically every evening of my life after a meal--I had a sugary dessert.  It tasted great!  But after a few spoonfuls, I was done.  No need to go any further.  Still I plowed through the entire dessert, thinking, Sure, this is what I do.
However something was missing.  That treat just didn't have the same old effect of making me feel like a mischievous little girl getting away with something.  Slurping the dregs just made me feel sort of silly.

The next morning, I fixed a cup of herbal tea and got on with the day, energized, clear-headed and resolute.  Though the cleanse had officially ended, I knew I was going to continue eating wholesome, nourishing local foods.  In fact, I couldn't wait to cook up a new stew for the week and try a new recipe.

Anyone who knows me understands that this is a huge shift in habit. Sugar-queen, crazy Coffee Monkey on my back, despiser of greens and fresh produce, french fry popping, donut munching, potato chip crunching grown up child is a fair description before the cleanse.  In fact, my habit was legendary.

I'm adding a few things back into the diet after this week: a little good cheese, Greek yogurt, a cookie now and then, but not much more.  What I've gained in self-compassion, self-knowledge, a good new clarity, is beyond what I imagined, and it has everything to do with compassionate awareness of what my body truly needs and wants.  And it's just not what I thought I wanted.

So OK, it took almost 60 years to get here...better late than never!

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