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January Detox

by Hazel Sillver

5th January, 2013

Recover from Christmas with nourishing, detoxifying foods, rather than a militant diet of lettuce leaves, says Hazel Sillver

Health, to an unhealthy body, is a big shock – so break the news gently.

Over the past fortnight, the average liver will have processed copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, sprouts, roast potatoes, mince pies, Christmas cake, Yule log, mulled wine, brandy, sherry and mountains of chocolate...

It could do with some TLC, but the worst thing to do is suddenly abandon the meat, the dairy, the gluten and the sugar and begin a militant diet of lettuce leaves and water. 

Sane, healthy detoxification is done gradually - otherwise, you could make yourself ill. For example, instead of suddenly cutting out chocolate altogether, have a small amount every other day, then every couple of days, then once a week... 

And just as unhealthy foods should be reduced gradually, so super healthy foods (such as those below), which will help the body to detox, should be introduced slowly. Health, to an unhealthy body, is a big shock – so break the news gently. 

Here are three of the main food groups that encourage us to detox:


The average festive meal is laden with meat, alcohol and dairy products, which put the body in a highly acidic state. Being too acidic can make digestion and detoxification difficult and lead to fatigue and depression. To rebalance the body’s pH, slowly reduce consumption of booze, meat and dairy and gradually start eating more alkalising foods (such as green leafy vegetables, seaweed and spirulina). 

Alkalising detox recipe: Spirulina balls


2 dessertspoons of Spirulina powder. I highly recommend Kean’s Supreme Greens (£19.99, because it is arguably the least lawn-like in taste of all the powders on the market, and contains wheatgrass and kelp. 

130g (4.5oz) ground almonds

2 pinches ground cardamom

1 dessertspoon sesame seeds

3 dessertspoons dessicated coconut

4 dessertspoons honey (ideally raw honey)

7 dessertspoons liquid coconut oil (if your coconut oil is solid, melt it in a metal bowl on a hob)

2 teaspoons rose water

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Petit-four cases

Mix the dry ingredients (spirulina, almonds, cardamom, sesame and coconut) in a bowl. Then add the wet ingredients. Mix together well, until you have a green paste. Then scoop a small spoonful and roll it in between the palms of your hands to form a small ball. Plop it into a petit-four case and place on a tray. Continue until the whole mixture has been rolled into green truffles. Put the tray in the fridge and leave to chill for a couple of hours. Keep the balls in the fridge and consume within 3-4 days. 


Our cells must be well hydrated in order to absorb nutrients and expel toxins. Stress causes dehydration, as does alcohol, tea and coffee. Rather than drinking lots of water, the best way to hydrate is to eat gloopy watery foods, such as soups, stews and soaked nuts and grains. 

Hydrating detox recipe: Linseed tea


2 dessertspoons of linseeds

600 ml of water

Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder and put in a large pan with the water. Bring to the boil and then take it off the heat. (Linseed tea is a little like milk in its tendency to boil at pace and spill over the sides of the pan, so keep an eye on it!) Cover it with the pan lid and leave it for 12 hours. Then bring back to the boil and simmer gently for one hour. Pour through a sieve and then drink half a cup. Leave the rest in the fridge, once its cool, for up to 3 days. 


Veg has a relaxing, cleansing and alkalising effect on the body and (if organically and locally grown) is packed with vitamins and minerals. Gradually up your vegetable consumption until it takes up 60% of each plateful - in other words, around six portions of vegetables per day, during your detox. 

Vegetable detox recipe: Parsnip soup


3 large parsnips

Coconut oil

15 g dried porcini mushrooms

1 shallot

1 clove garlic

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp coriander (dried)

3 apples (I use Russet. Peel with a potato peeler, core, quarter and cut into fat slices)

Lemon juice

200 ml milk (I use full fat dairy, but rice or soya milk would be much healthier)

Cut the parsnips into equal sized pieces and spread over a baking tray. Dot with a few lumps of coconut oil and put into a 200˚C oven, on the middle shelf. 

After 10 minutes, put the porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with about four times their weight in warm water. 

After a further ten minutes, warm a small lump of coconut oil in a pan on a medium-low heat; when melted, add the chopped shallot and let it fry gently for a few minutes. Then add the diced garlic and the spices. 

After a couple of minutes add the apple slices along with 2 tablespoons of water and a squeeze of lemon juice. Pluck the porcini mushrooms out of their liquid with your fingers and add them to the pan, (Do not throw away the porcini stock). 

Add another good splosh of water to the pan and cover. 

After 5-10 mins (or when they are soft and becoming golden) remove the parnsips from the oven and add to the pan. Pour in the porcini juice (except the gritty bits at the bottom) and some salt and pepper. Cover once more with the pan lid. 

After 5-10 mins, blend the mixture and season to taste. If you want, you can finish by stirring in 200 ml milk. 

Hazel Sillver is a freelance journalist and a contributor to the Ecologist Green Living section; email:

*image courtesy of



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