I had to laugh the other day when I read that some researchers found that men who order salads on a first date are considered wimps.
It made me think about some of the detox salads that I see recipes for are, well, “wimpy”.
Let me assure you that when you detox you don’t have to restrict your diet to boring salads consisting a mound of tasteless lettuce leaves that leave you hungry an hour later.
Talking of lettuce, American food writer Tamar Haspel has triggered a global food debate saying that lettuce takes up space on farms that could be used for more nutritious veg.
Well, she’s probably got a point there. Arugula (rocket), spinach and watercress have far more nutrients and fiber than lettuce.
Iceberg lettuce, so favored in restaurants as a base for the ubiquitous Caesar salad, has hardly any taste and hardly any nutrients. Iceberg lettuce is banned on the Gerson detox therapy for that reason. Cos (Romaine) lettuce was the sort favored by Dr Gerson for juicing because of it’s higher chlorophyll, mineral and protein content but there probably wasn’t the variety of green leaves in his day that there is now.
So what does make a good detox salad?
The infographic below shows you how to build a better salad but a few points first if you are on a detox diet.
It’s best to avoid gluten grains when detoxing so avoid barley, wheat berries, bulgar wheat, spelt, kamut, farro and freekeh.
Farro is an ancient strain of wheat that some consider to be better than modern wheat with it’s higher gluten content, but it’s not suitable for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat sensitivity or allergy.
Freekeh is young green wheat that has been roasted and cracked. It’s roasted over hot embers and on some farms treated with a blowtorch. Not healthy in my view and it still contains gluten so not a good food.
It’s fine to add a small amount of healthy animal protein or fish to your detox salads if you want. By healthy I mean organic chicken, free range turkey, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, organic eggs, but not lunch meat which is often full of preservatives.
Tuna is often high in mercury so is best avoided when you are detoxing.
If you are a vegetarian or prefer not to eat meat when you detox then add some beans or lentils.
So far as adding fruit is concerned I’m not a great advocate for adding it to salads with meat or cheese. I’m talking about fruit like berries, melon, grapes or stone fruit and not avocados or tomatoes which are technically fruit but we tend to think of as vegetables.
If you have a very strong digestion it’s probably fine but if your digestion is weak then it’s probably not a good idea. I am a great believer in Dr William Hay’s theory of not mixing acid fruit with carbohydrates or meat.
When you are detoxing it’s best to eat foods that are easily digested. Any upset in the digestive system can cause repercussions in the liver, the main detox organ.
Make vegetables the main part of your detox salad especially the cruciferous veg like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, watercress, mustard greens. They contain substances that induce the detox enzymes.
If you don’t like munching on hunks of raw broccoli and cauliflower try chopping them very finely or use a food processor it can make all the difference. You can also lightly steam them.
Salads don’t have to be cold or raw either. You can roast some root veggies like butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots or beets and toss them with a dairy free pesto dressing or a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
A handful of sprouts or micro greens are good to add too.
Dairy products except kefir or live yogurt are usually excluded on a detox diet but you can add a little goat’s cheese or feta cheese if you like but not as well as meat.
It’s fine to add a few nuts or seeds but hold that pitta chips or baked tortilla chips. Pitta is of course wheat and tortilla chips are often full of additives as well as acrylamides, toxic substances caused by baking at high temperatures.
A little healthy dressing and a few herbs can make or break a salad as far as taste is concerned.
Many people complain that detox food is bland but the addition of a handful of tasty, finely chopped herbs can make all the difference. Don’t be stingy with them.
If you are eating out and faced with a salad bar avoid the vegetables like potato salad smothered with mayonnaise and dressings that are made with unhealthy refined oils and laced with sugar. There’s nothing to stop you making up your own dressing at home and taking some in a small bottle.