Let's face it: We all indulge. It's hard to say no to the free snacks at the office or the baked goods beckoning from a shop's display case. And every once in a while we all need a diet reset to kick-start our metabolisms and help us resume our normal eating habits. But despite the popularity of juice cleanses, the best detoxes are actually ones that include real food. Solid foods are high in hunger-satiating fiber — a nutrient notably missing in juice-based cleanses. And the good news is it takes just a few days to reset your palette, so we developed this three-day detox plan that includes scrumptious suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each dish is so delicious that you won't believe you're doing a detox!
Day 1 Breakfast: Mango Smoothie
If you haven't been eating as healthfully as you'd like, the first thing to go is often your energy. So give your morning the jump-start it needs with this vibrant smoothie. It gets its kick from turmeric, fresh ginger and a dash of cayenne. Mangoes provide immunity-boosting vitamin C as well as vitamin A for smooth, glowing skin. Just thoroughly blend together one-and-a-half cups of almond milk, a cup of frozen mango chunks, two dates, a small knob of peeled fresh ginger and a dash each of turmeric and cayenne pepper. Garnish with another dash of cayenne (if you dare) and serve.
Day 1 Lunch: Loaded Glow Bowl
Most cleanses leave you "hangry" by lunchtime, but you'll feel energized and satisfied after this vegan bowl. Quinoa and lentils offer digestion-promoting fiber and muscle-building protein, while fresh vegetables supply powerful antioxidants. Simply mix a half-cup of cooked quinoa and a half-cup of lentils with a sprinkle of cumin and chili powder. Add the mixture to a bowl and top with a quarter-cup each of grated carrots, chopped cucumber, steamed broccoli florets and thinly sliced purple cabbage. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, top with your favorite vinaigrette and serve immediately.
Day 1 Dinner: Pistachio-Crusted Chicken
Coating your chicken breast with pistachio "breading" gives this dinner a comfort-food vibe. On top of being low in carbs (as well as free of refined carbs), pistachios are packed with healthy fats. They also supply copper, magnesium and vitamin E. Customize this dinner by roasting your favorite veggies for the side dish. We recommend roasted Brussels sprouts or asparagus garnished with lemon zest. Make the "breading" by pulsing a quarter-cup of shelled pistachios three to five times until it forms "crumbs." Then mix it with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a pinch of garlic powder and salt and pepper as desired. Spoon the crust over a flattened chicken breast and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes until fully cooked.
Day 2 Breakfast: Butternut Squash Toast
Like avocado toast? You'll love this detox-friendly twist. Topping your toast with mashed butternut squash starts your day with a generous serving of vitamin A, a nutrient that boosts immunity, promotes healthy cell growth and supports good vision. Microgreens make your toast look irresistible, and they're also a concentrated source of important nutrients like vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Start by seasoning a quarter-cup of mashed roasted butternut squash with a quarter teaspoon each of garlic powder, cumin and cinnamon and stirring to combine. Add the mixture to two slices of 100-percent whole-grain toast, and then garnish with a handful of microgreens and some freshly cracked black pepper.
Day 2 Lunch: Three-Protein Salad
Protein keeps you full, nourishes your muscles and supports your immune system — which is why it's a crime that protein is missing from traditional juice-based cleanses. But not with this cleanse! This salad bursts with protein-rich almonds, black beans and tempeh to make sure you get all the amino acids you need to build lean muscle. To make, top two to three cups of leafy greens with an ounce of almonds and a quarter-cup each of black beans (drained) and chopped organic tempeh. Add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrot and toasted corn kernels. Then dress the salad with your favorite vinaigrette and enjoy.
Day 2 Dinner: Mango-Lime Tilapia
Providing lean protein and healthy fats, low-calorie tilapia is a worthwhile addition to any detox diet. Homemade mango salsa adds vitamins A and C to your meal, while a side of steamed greens supplies vitamin C, calcium and iron. Make the salsa by combining one chopped mango, half of a diced jalapeno (with the seeds removed), a quarter-cup of red pepper, a handful of chopped cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil and the juice from one lime. Bake your tilapia filets for 10 to 12 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and then top your filet with two to three tablespoons of salsa. Serve with a side of steamed spinach or other leafy greens.
Day 3 Breakfast: Chocolate and Berry Oats
Congrats on making it to the final day of your cleanse! Start your day with antioxidant-loaded oatmeal that's flavored with loads of blueberries and, yes, chocolate. Oatmeal supplies loads of soluble fiber to keep you full and B-complex vitamins for metabolism and energy. The blueberries provide vitamins C and K for strong bones, while the cacao adds iron and copper for energy. Heat a half-cup of oats in a cup of unsweetened almond milk over low-medium heat until fully cooked (between five and eight minutes). Add a cup of blueberries and a tablespoon of cacao nibs and stir to combine. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon, cacao powder and a few additional berries and serve immediately.
Day 3 Lunch: Chicken Collard Wrap
We love the convenience of a wrap, but wheat tortillas often contain a surprising amount of calories (not to mention all the refined carbs that can really weigh you down). Keep your lunch light by using a collard green leaf as your wrap instead. Collards add vitamin A to your meal, and they're also a source of organosulfur compounds — powerful antioxidants that may help fight cancer. Prep your collard greens by trimming the center stem from each leaf (so that it's roughly level with the rest of the leaf) and steaming the "wrap" for three to four minutes until flexible. Top each leaf with sliced chicken breast, chopped artichoke hearts, diced sun-dried tomatoes and a few slices of fresh grapefruit. Roll to assemble the wrap.
Day 3 Dinner: Veggie Soba Noodle Soup
We love a comforting bowl of soup — especially in the cooler months — and this veggie-packed version is the perfect ending to your food cleanse. We forego typical pasta (a source of refined grains) in favor of buckwheat soba noodles, which have a richer flavor and extra fiber. Take two-and-a-half cups of low-sodium broth, one tablespoon of sliced ginger and a teaspoon of chili and bring to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and add two ounces of soba noodles and a quarter-cup each of edamame, chopped bok choy and broccoli. Cook for five to seven minutes or until the noodles are tender. Garnish with sliced green onions. Feel free to top with additional ingredients, such as an egg and freshly grated turmeric or sliced ginger.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you tried a cleanse before? Would you give this three-day detox plan a go? Let us know in the comments!