My sister, Julia, flew in last week. Julia wanted to do a "cleanse" while she had some time off. Then, she would start her new job very healthy and clean from the inside out. I didn't have any interest in cleansing but I would help her figure out the best way to go about it. I tried a detox diet once and ended up two days into it, lying on Jack's bedroom floor with a migraine headache. Claud came home and rushed me to Baja Fresh for a chicken burrito. I was better in no time. My body just doesn't handle that kind of a diet: teas, soups, water, and nothing else. I need sustenance.
Some people really like to cleanse or detox. I have heard great things about the benefits of detoxing the body. I told her to talk to this guy who works at Sunflower who knows everything. He recommended we go to a store called Herbally Grounded and get their System Cleanse Tea. We walked into the store and my same Sunflower guy was there, working at Herbally Grounded. How weird! He walked us through the tea preparation. The tea would clean out her colon, intestines, kidneys, spleen, etc He told us that some people have as much as twenty-five pounds of waste material in their bodies that needed to be eliminated. Can he be serious? Gross! Sold. Where do I sign?
I need a clean spleen. Surely, my kidneys need some washing too. Who doesn't want a squeaky clean colon? So, I bought the tea. We didn't need to change our diet. We just drink it once each day and after three weeks our system would be cleansed. My only concern was when he said if you become emotional, "Just let out a good long cry." What? Well, I let that slide and excitedly bought a huge amber jug to put my tea into and went home to brew up this concoction. If he sold a cauldron, I would have bought that too. I was really excited. Julia and I couldn't get that tea brewing fast enough. We wanted our first half-cup right away. I was disgusted with the thought of twenty-five pounds of waste floating around inside. Soon, we sipped the magic brew.
Baba ganoush: one topped with olive oil and lemon, one topped with kalamata olives and olive oil
Baba ganoush ingredients: olive oil, tahini, cumin, kalamata olives, garlic, lemon, parsley, and eggplant
The inside of the eggplant
Broiled and baked eggplant
The next day, I was exhausted. I could barely wake up. I had to take the kids to school. I got them there and returned as quickly as I could to my bed. My head ached and I couldn't keep my eyes open. I woke up later and ate some breakfast with my cup of cleanse tea. Later that day, Jules flew home. We agreed to keep each other posted. I really wish I could share our text messages here. I can't because it is inappropriate to talk about bowel movements in a food column and because my sister would kill me.
By the third day, I had tons of things on my list to do and still felt like I should sleep all day. My neighbor asked if I would make her some baba ganoush. This dish has become her favorite. I didn't even know I could make baba ganoush. Turns out, I make a pretty fantastic baba ganoush. Making it would entail running to the store and returning to cook before I delivered it to her. Normally, this would be exciting and fun. Not three days into my cleansing tea. Now, this seemed like an incredible burden. I didn't know if I could handle walking through the store. My head hurt. I wanted to crawl in bed and stay there all day. Somehow, I mustered up the strength to get to the store and to pick up the kids from school. Then, I came home and cooked. Claud walked in the door just as I finished. I shoved a few bowls into his arms and said, "Please helpto Nan's house." He looked at me confused but obliged.
Nan looked at me funny. She said, "Wendy, you look very pretty." She was lying. "Huh, I feel horrible. I am so incredibly tired. I have a headache. I just got a fever blister. Don't I look tired?" She gave a concerned smile. Then, Claud chimed in, "Your skin is grey." What? Grey? "It's this stupid cleanse," I told them. Claud told me to stop drinking it. He said I was poisoning myself. Nan instantly got out the baba ganoush and some crackers. She pulled out some hummus and crispy kale. Then, she poured me a nice big glass of red wine. I sat down and indulged in all of this wonderful food. By the time my glass was empty, both Nan and Claud said my color had returned. Why do I need to learn some lessons twice?
Time: 35 minutes
1 large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pinch cumin
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick eggplant with fork and broil, turning often for ten minutes. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Peel off skin. Place eggplant flesh into a bowl and mash with fork. Add tahini, garlic, lemon, and cumin. Season with salt. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with olives.
I texted Jules and told her I felt like doody (I used a different word). She concurred. She was feeling dizzy and nauseous. She texted, "I'm thinking of ditching it!" I told her I was definitely dumping it. Julia texted the following day, "I think eating mostly vegan is probably healthy and cleansing on its own. No need for a harsh cleanse." Agreed. Maybe these cleanses are good for some people. Maybe once you get through the agony, you come out the other side a cleaner healthier person. I don't know. I have never been able to endure the pain.