The Lowdown on Cleansing + a Reset Recipe You’ll Actually Enjoy

The lowdown on cleansing

Ever have one of those days (or weeks) when you’re feeling just a little … what’s the word? Doughy?

A whole lotta people love turning to cleanses come January, thinking they’ll knock those toxins right out.

Here’s the deal with cleanses, guys. Do they make you feel great? Great, go for it. Do do they make you feel really crappy? Well then you should probably rethink them. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE green juice, and I think juices and smoothies are great additions to any diet. But there a a few drawbacks to drinking only juice if you ask me.

One: As I mentioned, the price. They are ridiculously overpriced. Why pay hundreds of bucks for juice when you can realistically rid toxins by simply eating clean? Side note: that body of yours does a pretty awesome job of cleansing itself.

Two: The sugar. You may be drinking anywhere from 75 to 200 grams of sugar a day on a cleanse. To put that in perspective, women should be consuming somewhere around 20-30 grams of sugar per day (varies person to person). So yeah, 75 to 200 will spike your blood sugar nice and high.

Three: I am notorious for completing a cleanse, and then hitting the bar pretty much as soon as possible. Yep, it’s terrible, awful – criminal even! Spend the money on fancy juices, feel great for a day, then feel guilty about “ruining” it. The last time I did a cleanse, it ended the same day the UConn men’s basketball team was playing for the National Championship. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen. At this point you may bring up self-control, in which case I would tell you that I went to UConn, and it was March Madness.

Here’s my point. You can cleanse your bod by eating anti-inflammatory, whole foods, and feel just as great. Yes, juice cleanses can be great for resetting the digestive system. But they can also be really extreme, and really expensive. Instead, try cutting out or back on processed foods, gluten, dairy and sugar for a little. If you want to go full throttle then skip the meat, alcohol and caffeine, too. The best way to do this is by packing in the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. Here’s the fun part: keep eating like this, and soon enough it won’t feel like a cleanse. It will just feel normal, and really good.

I’m kicking off the week with a delicious (cleanse happy) recipe from one of my faves, Thug Kitchen. You know we love our cook once, eat all week recipes around here, and this slow-cooker meal makes the cut. I changed it slightly based on what I had around (hominy is not something I generally have laying around). It’s sort of a cross between soup and chili, which was perfect because I couldn’t decide between the two. It’s comforting on a freezing night like this one, but not too heavy – remember, I’m feelin’ doughy.

Pozole Rojo

Adapted from the Thug Kitchen Cookbook


5 large dried chiles (if you can’t find these – I’m sorry. They make for a really awesome flavor. But, you can use a few tablespoons of chili powder in their place).

2 cups warm water

1 large onion

5 cloves garlic

1 zucchini

1 red pepper

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons tamari

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

5 cups vegetable broth

Juice of 1 lime

Optional toppings: blue tortilla chips, green onions, radishes, cilantro, avocado, lime wedges


I used a slow cooker, but you can use a large pot too. Actually, that’s what the recipe calls for.

Grab a big pot or griddle and toast the dried chiles on both sides until they get a little bendy and soft, about 2 minutes. When they are all good, throw them in a bowl with the warm water and let them soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

While that’s going down, chop up the onion, pepper, garlic, and zucchini. When the chiles are nice and rehydrated take them out of the water but hold on to the water. Cut off the chile tops, remove the seeds and chop them all up. Throw them in a blender or food processor with the water they were soaked in, the garlic, and cocoa powder, and run it until the chile-garlic paste looks all mashed up with no big chunks left.

Heat up the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add tamari for a little flavor. Next, add the zucchini, pepper, oregano, cumin, and salt. Stir that all together and then add the chile-garlic paste you made earlier. Toss all that around so that everything is well coated and then add the broth. Cover and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to get all the flavors to combine. Next add the lime juice, and favorite toppings.

Looking for more food-based cleanse recipes? Check out The Simple Cleanse! Just pop your email in the box below and we’ll send you three days of whole foods to reset your system, totally free.

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Author Bridget

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Laura says:

    Great post! I’m embarrassed to say that I wasted money on yet another cleanse as recently as this past November — THE LAST TIME, I SWEAR. It seems like once a year, when I’m feeling doughy myself, I’m drawn to the idea of a quick-fix — lose a few pounds and jumpstart a healthy new routine? Sounds awesome. But juice cleanses make me feel soooooo horrible and they mess up my metabolism big time. The first time I tried a 3-day juice cleanse, I fainted 1.5 days into it. I won’t go into the graphic details of what it did to my digestion but it was not pretty. I literally could not move from the couch — just weakly reached out for my phone and ordered a chicken sandwich.

    The second time I tried a raw food cleanse, the food was repulsive and I was starving. Even this past cleanse, which promised to be better because it was a “smoothie” cleanse, did nasty things to my blood sugar levels and I abandoned it. I’m only admitting how much money I wasted — an embarrassing amount! — to hold myself accountable to never do it again.

    Cleanses may work for some people, but for me, they’re fancy and expensive ways to say “crash diet for 3-5 days,” which just feels disrespectful and mean to my body, which does such a good job of keeping me going. Fueling with healthier foods on a day-to-day basis is the boring and harder choice, but the right one!

  • bshan says:

    Right there with ya, Laura – each time I think I’m ready to spend the cash on another cleanse, I completely forget how I felt the last time! Glad you can relate. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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