Another thing that people often do after New Years is “detox”. They believe that it is particularly beneficial after the indulgences of the Christmas and New Year period. Some claim it can clear up your skin, boost your energy, shed a few kilos and reset your digestive system. I don’t have an opinion on the benefits (or not) but as I believe in moderation and a balanced approach I try not to over-indulge at any given time. But if I did, that would make it time for a New Year Detox Stress Free Dinner Party.
Anyhow, the purpose of a detox is to give your kidneys, liver and bowel a break, and it usually involves reducing or eliminating foodstuffs that are thought to place a heavy load on these organs like sugar, coffee, dairy, alcohol and grains as well as other things like cigarettes. At the same time, you load up on things that support these organs like fruit, vegetables, fish, lean meat, nuts and seeds. Which sounds a lot like what you should be eating all the time anyway if you ask me.
Detoxing is often encouraged for more than one meal and might involve a 24-hour juice fast, a week of dietary changes, exercises like yoga or tai chi and other treatment activities like saunas, massages or hydrotherapy. So for the purpose of this meal I’m going to assume that you are partway through some kind of program, have taken medical advice before you got started, and don’t want anyone else to know!
Bearing in mind that we’re making this dinner at home for friends, we’ll once again be keeping it simple.
The standard recommendation is for high fibre fruit and vegetables, particularly raw ones and brown rice. Some let you eat lean meat. If you are detoxing, I expect you should get organic.
Recommended drinks include water, vegetable juice, green and herbal teas including dandelion root, burdock and milk thistle. Sauvignon Blanc is a light and delicate wine that matches the theme (aside from being on the banned list) and will do well enough with all the dishes listed that you could just get a couple of bottles for your guests to share.
Clean white linens and silver (or paper and aluminium).
I think for this event, smart casual – it’s all about letting go of things.
As always, six guests invited to arrive 6.30 for 7.00pm.
6:30 Apéritif: Spicy Pineapple Detox Smoothie with Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips
Wash and dry a bunch of kale, cut the thick ribs off and tear into bite size pieces. Put in a bowl and mix with one tablespoon of oil, two tablespoons of vinegar and 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt (hands is best and easiest). Spread in a single layer on a parchment covered baking sheet, sprinkle with a little more salt if you like and bake in a 350F (180C) oven for 7 – 10 minutes until crisp. Baking potentially damages kale’s superfood digestive benefits, but the olive oil and cider vinegar have other effects that might balance it out.
Mix a cup of water, a banana, a cup of pineapple chunks, tablespoon of ginger, two tablespoons of lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper per person in a blender. This combination improves digestion, reduces inflammation, increases metabolism, stimulates circulation, regulates blood sugar. You could add a tablespoon of flaxseed (to increase the fibre and omega three content) and/or a tablespoon of maca powder for adrenal support. And for those drinking alcohol a shot of rum, gin or vodka.
7.00 Entrée: Basil and Avocado Salad with Pomegranate Flavoured Water
Salad: Finely slice two large carrots, two large fennel bulbs, two avocados and two or three sprigs of basil into a large serving bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, the juice of two large lemons, four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and gently toss to combine. Serve on a bed of arugula (rocket) and top with toasted chia seeds and/or cashews.
Water: Make this one up with as much or as little of each ingredient to your taste. Mix the seeds and juice of a pomegranate with some grated ginger and sliced lime in a big jug then top up with sparkling mineral water. You could add vodka, white rum, bourbon or sparkling wine to make this alcoholic.
8.00 Main: Salmon with Sweet Potatoes salad with more water and/or Sauvignon Blanc
Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
Sweet Potatoes: Slice 6 small sweet potatoes and put on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
Salmon: Sprinkle 6 fillets with salt and pepper, place on a baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.
Salad: Wash, dry, and mix about a three handfuls of arugula (rocket), three handfuls of basil, a finely sliced large red onion and 4 – 6 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts or flaked almonds.
Dressing: Mix 6 tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper.
Divide the salad among the plates, top with the sweet potato and salmon and drizzle with the dressing
9.00 Dessert: Berries with Greek Yoghurt
Lots of fibre and even though the yoghurt is dairy, the probiotics probably outweigh the dairyness. Try to get as many colours and varieties as possible.
Gently wash and dry the berries, divide between bowls, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt and sprinkle with toasted crushed nuts (for fibre) or bee pollen (for immune support).
10.00 Coffee, Fruit and Cheese with Port
Coffee, cheese and crackers are all “prohibited” during a detox, but your guests might expect them. And even if you serve them you don’t have to eat them. You could offer green tea as well and drink that yourself. Pick a young (e.g. brie), an old (e.g. cheddar) and a blue cheese as well as some fruit like a crisp apple or pear, some fruit paste, nuts and crackers.
Again assuming the cleaning, table laying, etc. is complete, we’ll pick up at the cooking (and, as usual, I recommend a practice run and an acceptance of schedule slippage).
3.00 make the kale chips
3.30 toast all the seeds and nuts you will be using (just fry them in a pan without oil until they smell toasty)
5.00 prepare the entrée salad ingredients, except for the avocado, but don’t mix them together yet
5.30 prepare the mains salad, the dressing and bake the sweet potato
5.50 wash the berries and set aside
6.00 prepare the fruit for the jug of water
6.10 chop the fruit and get your smoothie ready to go
6.30 guests start arriving
6.50 put together the entrée and fill the water jug
7.00 serve entrée
7.40 cook the fish
7.55 put the main salad together
8.00 serve main
8.45 “plate up” dessert
9.00 serve dessert
9.45 put the cheese plate together and make the coffee
10.00 serve coffee
I reckon that aside from the not drinking, no one would know you were detoxing with this meal. Doesn’t really feel like detoxing does it?