Does the Beauty Detox Solution Work?

I’ve been getting a lot of search terms and hits to do with Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Solution lately. People want to see before and after shots of others who have undertaken Kimberly’s diet recommendations, and even more people just want to know, plain and simple, if the program works. Should they buy the book? Should they make the Probiotic and Enzyme Salad (aka Countertop Sauerkraut) recipe? Are Glowing Green Smoothies delicious or gross-tasting? Do they really need a Vita-Mix blender?

I started the Beauty Detox Solution program last April (2011), and I even set up a separate page on my blog so I could document my progress and keep all of my posts on that topic in one, easy-to-access hub. I gradually started incorporating Kimberly’s principles into my lifestyle and noticed both subtle and significant changes in my health almost immediately. Weight was lost. Skin was cleared up. Energy levels were boosted. Sleep was sound and restful. Digestion and elimination became efficient to super-heroine levels.

And then I got sidetracked– seriously— when my work took over my existence last summer. (Excuses, excuses– I know.) I abandoned most of the specific principles of the Beauty Detox Solution and many of the foundational tenets of Basic, Commonsense Nutrition as well. Take-out food was consumed every day. Not surprisingly, weight was gained– a lot of it, too: 20-odd pounds! Sleep was sacrificed. Energy levels were in the dumps. Skin still looked okay (because I maintained my no-dairy stance), but everything else related to my body was terrible.

Well. Heroic journeys are all about redemption after descending into darkness, right?

I have ever so slowly started back on my Personal Beauty Detox journey; however, I’m not the most dedicated pupil and still retain a lot of flexibility (cheating?) regarding what I eat. (Diet Vigilantes would call it cheating– I’m calling it “moderation”.)

When we first moved to the cabin in December, I felt very chilly every day, so the thought of consuming Green Smoothies and raw salads was incredibly unappealing. (In the spirit of listening to my body, homemade soups and steamed vegetables over grains became my go-to meals of choice.) Besides, I was still weaning myself off of copious amounts of sugar, salt, and fats from those wretched summer months, so unfortunately, whole foods seemed kind of bland for a while. I needed a serious Palate Cleansing/Overhaul. But lo! Things are getting better and I am feeling much peppier these days, health-wise and energy-wise.

What Principles of the Beauty Detox Solution Am I Following?

1. Zero dairy in my diet.

I started this process a year before the BDS book was released and have reaped incredible rewards (significant weight loss, complete elimination of my acne, better digestion, and way less congestion) because of it. I’m not going to lie– taking dairy out of the diet completely is hard, especially if you buy any pre-packaged foods or restaurant meals whatsoever. (Of if you love cheese, which I did x 1000.) Dairy is in everything! However, it’s not impossible to do and I am a firm believer that the benefits are well worth the challenge. Seriously.

2. Slim-to-none amounts of caffeine and zero meat in my diet.

I have some green tea that I got as a gift, so I drink a cup of it every now and then. Also, I’m still eating local, free-range, organic eggs on occasion. I could take them out of my diet if I really wanted to, but I happen to like eating eggs every once in a while. So there! 🙂

3. Soaking grains, nuts, and seeds before consuming them.

I confess that I never used to soak anything before eating or cooking it. Now, I’ve gotten into the habit of soaking things overnight (or for 24 hours) before I need them in recipes. Do I notice a difference? In texture, yes, but in terms of digestion, not really. Maybe it’s just me?

4. Taking out as much soy as possible.

I’m not a soy person in general. However, this summer involved a whirlwind rebound relationship with soy milk, facilitated by our matchmaker, Starbucks. The truth is that soy milk makes me feel *almost* as gross as cow milk does– I get super phlegmy, bloated, and congested when I drink it. (Alas, Starbucks was only a skip away from our harbour booth, and I had a summer filled with the sickening convenience of Soy Coffee Fraps. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope that this never happens again!) Soy is mostly out again, save for some dashes of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and miso.

5. Glowing Green Smoothies/Probiotic and Enzyme Salad consumption.

After recovering from the initial shock of the fresh mountain air up here, I’ve started drinking between 3 and 5 Green Smoothies a week, and I also have a 1/2 cup of Probiotic and Enzyme Salad (aka raw sauerkraut) every few days. Both of these recipes make me feel incredibly clean and healthy; however, I still haven’t worked up to consuming either of them on a daily basis. Confession: as much as I love the green smoothies in particular, I find it challenging to drink them and still have enough time left over to eat all of the other meals I want to on a given day! (I’ve been sleeping in like a sloth every day, so by the time I eat breakfast, most people are just about ready for lunch. That doesn’t leave a girl a lot of time to down her soups, salads, and other delectable food items before dark! So much delicious, homemade food– so little time!)

6. Focusing on the process vs. on the end result.

The Beauty Detox Solution isn’t a race or a competition. I don’t feel pressure to incorporate all of Kimberly’s principles right away or even ever. I’m just doing what works for me and feeling thankful for the health I have because of it. I know that I could be “more successful” (read: thinner, toned, famous, and probably rich, too) if I were to stick very closely to the program. Certainly, I could lose more weight, feel super-human amounts of energy, and feel rested on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. I just don’t feel the need to get there just yet– for once, I’m actually fine with who I am, as I am right now. Go, me!

I'm OK, You're OK!

So Does It Work?

In a word: yes. I believe that any move toward a plant-based, whole foods diet will yield significant health benefits, and The Beauty Detox Solution is one way to get there. If people are just looking for an easy, quick-fix solution to weight issues alone, and are wondering if a diet of 100% Green Smoothies can do the trick, the BDS can still work, but undertaking it specifically to LOSE A MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF WEIGHT, RIGHT NOW! is really missing the point. This is a gradual (and hopefully permanent) shift in lifestyle. Yes, it works, but you do have to be invested in the principles that underpin it first. After reading this book, and now The China Study, I am really beginning to sense the urgency of maintaining a plant-based, whole foods diet for overall health and quality of life. It just makes sense on so many levels (but maybe I’m more receptive to this message, having been a vegetarian for most of my life and having already taken dairy out before the Beauty Detox Solution book came out).

Do You Have Any Before/After Photos?

Hmmm… I looked through our archives and noted with suspicion that I had “lost” or “accidentally deleted” most of the less-than-flattering pics of myself. (Either that, or I’m not exactly jumping in front of the camera when my clothes aren’t fitting properly. Look at my thighs! They’re gigantic!!)

That said, you can get a really good “before” shot of my acne-ridden complexion in this post. (My “after” skin shot is just up above in the current post– that shot was taken a few days ago.) I still consider myself to be in the early phases of the program, especially because I started and then stopped so spectacularly for half a year. Maybe I should take a current, full-length pic and use it as my “before” shot. Fabulous, fashionable “after” shots will come in a few months, then. 😉

I hope this information helps! As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments section or e-mail me privately. I’m happy to share my personal experiences and pitfalls in the spirit of making the journey that much easier for somebody else. 🙂

Refurnishing Our Furnished Kitchen

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have certain… kitchen issues. For some reason or another, although I never scrutinize the cutlery in restaurants or at other people’s houses, when it comes to my own kitchen– the kitchen I am expected to cook in and eat out of on a daily basis– I prefer to use my own dishes. The special ones. And although I could care less about the bread pans used in local bakeries or whether the cupcake shop uses metal, glass, or plastic mixing bowls to whip up their confections, I’d be hard pressed to bake anything of my own using mixing bowls or baking trays that weren’t mine. You know… the special ones. (Thankfully, this peculiarity of mine extends only to the culinary domain. I am remarkably easy to please when it comes to bathrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms. Is it logical of me to protest drinking out of somebody else’s crockery mug but happily sleep in their bed? Obviously not, but they don’t call it an obsessive compulsive disorder for nothing.)

Anyway.

It goes without saying that, when we moved into our furnished cabin a month ago, I insisted on bringing our own “kitchen things” along. Both the landlords and the previous tenant here raved about how wonderfully stocked the kitchen already was, but I wasn’t convinced. Sure, there was a blender in the cupboard, but was it a Vita-Mix blender? Probably not. And yes, there were pots, pans, baking trays, and even a crock pot at our disposal, but were they dreaded aluminum pots? Were there remnants of other people’s food still crusted onto the baking trays and on the sides of the crock pot? Probably. Hence, I packed up our kitchen “essentials” and assessed the situation for myself upon moving in.

Sorry. Can't do it.

Inefficient use of cupboard space. Sorry. Can't do it.

Obviously, this wonderfully stocked kitchen did not live up to my impossibly stringent standards. (Greasy plates and suspiciously-spotted cups, as a rule, do not make the grade, even in a summer cottage.) I ended up photographing all of the cupboards and drawers as though I were fully documenting a crime scene, carefully removing all of the items from the shelves, lovingly (and thoroughly) cleaning the insides of everything with my special all-natural cleanser… and then putting my own dishes back in. All of the pre-supplied items– piles of plates, bowls, and saucers; extra lightbulbs; enough forks and spoons to last a whole year before washing; a popcorn machine; pyrex measuring cups; ice cube trays; plastic wine goblets; plastic-feeling dish towels; a lifetime’s supply of aluminum foil; aluminum-laden pots; scarily-encrusted baking tins; a sad little blender; barbecue tongs; and way more cheaply made fly swatters than I deemed necessary for the winter, fly-free months– were packed into boxes and tucked away in the deep recesses of the loft. (By the way? LOVE THE LOFT. We have turned one side of it into a gigantic storage area where things go to be forgotten until April. The other, secluded side of the loft has been transformed into a tranquil meditation corner.) When the time comes to move out again, I’ll use my photos as reference and arrange everything in the kitchen as though nothing had ever been moved, used, or even touched. I’m diligent like that.

I made one exception during the purge. Progress is progress, people.

For better or worse, I *MUST* have a hand blender, food processer, and a Vita-Mix blender in the kitchen, but a rice cooker has never appealed to me.

It took me a whole day of scrubbing, packing, cursing, arranging, and generally toiling to get the kitchen into its new order. (To put things in perspective, Marty managed to clean the entire rest of the cabin in the time it took me to get the kitchen up to (my) (ridiculous) par.) Everything was worth it, though. Sure, I don’t enjoy cleaning other people’s stoves and ovens, but it sure feels great cooking on a mostly spotless stove top or pulling a delicious Berry Oat Cake from the now-impeccable oven. Both Marty and I have remarked on a number of occasions how nice it is to be eating off our own plates and spooning soup out of our own bowls. (Perhaps these kitchen issues are contagious? If so, I fear for Marty’s sanity.) Making almond milk every week in our own Vita-Mix blender feels like a blessing. Everything feels right.

The figurative “icing on top” came on the day when I simultaneously discovered a small farm down the street selling free-range eggs (yes!) and a local kitchen scraps composting service (double geeky YES!). Once I get going in the kitchen– which is now– most of the “garbage” we produce is organic waste, so it feels awesome to have the kitchen scraps composted for a ridiculously modest fee ($6 for 48 Litres of kitchen scraps. Cheap!)

It feels like home.

Perhaps I should take some more "after" shots of the kitchen, no?

Smooth Move

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d like to start this post off by shouting “Hello!! Guess what, everyone? I’m still alive!!”

[enter hollow-sounding echo] [enter crickets chirping]

Yeah, it’s me. Yes, I’m still incredibly busy. No, I don’t have enough clean underwear to last me through the weekend. Yes, I might have to buy some new pairs. Pronto. (Because wearing underwear inside out DOES NOT COUNT as clean.) Like Marty says: we– the childless by choice couple– seriously need an au pair. Or two. Stat!

Anyway. You’re probably all wondering how my Personal Beauty Detox Journey is going, right? (Admit it: sometimes you lie awake at night, staring at the ceiling, and desperately pray for some kind of a sign. “How is Dana doing?”, you wonder. [AOK] “Is her skin clear?” [Yep] “Do her pants fit?” [Kinda] “Is she still eating sauerkraut?” [Every now and then] “And cake?” [Sadly, yes] “Please, god– I have to know!” Don’t worry: I get it!)

Even though I was derailed for about two months on my Personal Beauty Detox Journey– gaining a total of 12.5 effin’ pounds!! (I know: seriously?!)– I seem to be heading back on track. [Fingers crossed.] [Knock on wood.] [Salt tossed over my shoulder for extra good measure.] And as of Sunday the 5th, I have actually taken the plunge and incorporated one of the major, signature tenets of Kimberly Snyder’s program: the Glowing Green Smoothie.

I have a thing with food textures, remember, and in my mind, green things are not supposed to be soft, smooth, or creamy whatsoever. (That’s why it took me 28 years to enjoy eating avocados.) I’ll admit I was terribly nervous about shoving a head of romaine lettuce, half a bunch of spinach leaves, some celery, and some fruit into a blender and then drinking it down. Being faced with nearly a litre of emerald green drink to down (every day!) did not seem like an obstacle I could overcome successfully.

But everything in my life started pointing me in the inevitable direction of the Green Smoothie.

First, I read Kimberly Snyder’s book, “The Beauty Detox Solution”. Did I jump right on the smoothie bandwagon after reading her incredibly inspiring book? No, but I did start incorporating some of her other suggestions. I was just a little nervous about all that blended green drink.

Next, I attended that powerful talk by Tim VanOrden. He was incredibly motivating and also talked about drinking Green Smoothies every morning. Did I head home that evening and triumphantly drag my Vitamix out of its cubby? Still no.

Finally, I happened to pick up a book called “Green for Life” at the local raw foods café while I was waiting for a gorgeous take-out salad to be made. I started thumbing through it mindlessly, and the few pages I read were what eventually convinced me to take the plunge.

I’ll confess it was mostly vanity that inspired me to make green smoothies every morning. Cough.

The author of “Green for Life”— Victoria Boutenko– talked about the power of green smoothies to a) regulate sleep patterns and nourish the body on less sleep each night, and b) potentially heal even lifelong sores on the body. Seeing as we are so busy at the Harbour these days, the thought of being able to rejuvenate on less sleep every night was very appealing to me. (Maybe we can build our way up to working 22 hours a day?? Heh.) Also, I’m ashamed to admit that I still have that nasty, not-so-girly foot affliction, so even the possibility of having it drop off effortlessly after many years of trying to get rid of it was enough to turn me in the direction of blended green drinks.

Yes, I started drinking smoothies because of a wart. Ahem.

I have to say, I am loving both my morning smoothies and the fact that I own a Vitamix blender. Seriously. I don’t think I could keep it up if I had to chop everything into tiny pieces and then down a still-grainy “smoothie” from a non-Vitamix blender. The first morning, I was paranoid about over-blending the smoothie (in case all the rapid-fire blending action caused the smoothie to heat up, which I would not have been able to tolerate.) So I didn’t really blend it enough. It came out kind of chunky, luke-warmish, and admittedly nasty. And yet I drank it down for the sake of my health and non-girly warts falling off.

The second morning, I declared to myself that I would blend the hell out of those vegetables, and guess what? My Vitamix rendered the greens, celery, apple, pear, and banana into a heavenly-textured confection. It was silky, it was fresh, it was just the right thickness, and it was delicious. Yes, it  took a bit of mental maneuvering to move past my mind’s alarmed insistence that This drink has vegetables in it!! DON’T DRINK IT!!!, but once I grew up and focused on how delicate and fresh the taste was, I was hooked.

I have been mowing through greens and fruits in the nearly two weeks since I started drinking the smoothies. I’ve also become emboldened in my smoothie making and experimented with other greens and fruits every now and again. In place of romaine lettuce, I’ve used dark kale leaves. Instead of spinach, I’ve tossed in generous portions of swiss chard leaves. I’ve used parsley sprigs, cilantro, raspberries, blueberries, and I even have some nectarines ripening to try them out in a future smoothie. All of the drinks have been divine. When I drink them, it’s like my body has been wandering in a dusty desert for months and is finally being quenched at some blessed oasis. Every one of my organs seems to sing when I drink the smoothie, and I’m beginning to feel like a bit of a super-hero because of it.

Is it a bird? A plane? No! It’s Supple Kidneys Girl! 🙂

Every morning, I consume about 750mL of the green smoothie, and Marty gets the other half. To my pleasant surprise, I have been fine taking out my morning staple of oatmeal and drinking the smoothie instead (after literally years of eating a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast). Marty, on the other hand, finds he still prefers oatmeal off the bat and then he has his smoothie later in the morning or early in the afternoon. I have lost a modest amount of weight in the past two weeks (2lbs), but I’ve decided to focus instead on the non-scale measures of my increasing health:

– I have been waking up before my alarm clock on most mornings and feeling refreshed on all of them

– My body feels cleaner, fresher, and leaner (even though I haven’t changed anything else about my eating or exercise habits– still eating sweets and actually exercising less, to my chagrin)

– My skin feels more supple and elastic

– My elimination has been more frequent and more regular

– I am craving more fresh and raw foods (but yes– still eating things like carob bars daily)

– I still have that stupid sore on the bottom of my foot, but I’m holding out hope that it will magically fall off in a few more weeks (or months– whatever)

My goal is to actually drink at least a litre of green smoothie every day. I could easily drink more as it stands, but I’m just being polite and sharing the yield with Marty! (To reach a higher target, I’d have to make two batches of green smoothie in the morning). They keep well in the fridge or freezer, and they don’t separate out or become nasty even after an hour or so of sitting in my travel mug. This has been a big step for me, but I’m so thankful that I’ve taken the plunge and also made more use of my expensive, fancy blender! It finally feels worth it! 😉

Crying (And Cursing) Over Spilled Milk

Have you ever saved your money for what felt like forever and a day and bought something that struck you as exquisite and extraordinary? I’m not talking about gigantic purchases, either– like houses or yachts or Ferraris– I just mean basic, everyday things like a laptop, new glasses, or (in my case) a kick ass blender. Yes? No?

Vitamix Blenders: Sweet dreams are made of these!

When I still worked at the Office Job, I had an automatic savings plan set up specifically for this fantasy blender of mine. Every paycheque, a small amount of money would be skimmed off the top and squirreled away into the “Vitamix” savings account. It took a long time to accumulate enough dinero for this blender, because they definitely aren’t cheap, but I did it and the Vitamix was finally mine! Come to mommy, little blender! The problem was, by the time I finally got my blender, I was too afraid to even use it, lest I blow the motor or otherwise ruin my Expensive Purchase right away. Totally. Defeating. The purpose.

I confess: Up until very recently, I had only used my Vitamix to make what amounted to two very expensive batches of Peach Bellinis. (So much for all those healthy Green Smoothies I had originally envisioned! :)) I am a somewhat rational being, however, so I buckled down the other day and resolved to learn more about this Magical Blending Machine. I know that a Vitamix can perform virtual wizardry in the kitchen– nut butters! soups! bread dough! freshly milled flour! regular ol’ smoothies! delicious frozen cocktails!– and I figured that my reluctance to dabble in this black magic stemmed solely from my lack of practice in pushing the ‘On’ button. (Really, could it get any easier than ‘On’?) Time to break in my Vitamix, baby.

The first task I assigned for myself was to make almond milk for our tea lattés. (I know, I know– what a hippy-dippy mission for a bunch of boho punks!! Bear with me.) Marty normally takes rice milk in his morning coffee, and I drink my herbal teas straight– like the tough-as-nails badass I truly am– but both of us enjoy some vanilla almond milk in the occasional tea latté. (Speaking of which: if you have a Teopia store near you, totally get some Coco Caramel Rooibos tea and make an almond milk latté with it. Or order that tea online. It is to die for.) I figured homemade almond milk was worth a try, and I even found an encouraging recipe that said making almond milk from scratch was “easy”. What was there to lose?

It started out simply enough. I procured a cup of raw (not roasted) almonds and soaked them in a bowl of filtered water for about 8 hours.

The almonds softened and swelled up to nearly double their original size.

The almond on the top was soaked

After they had soaked for a nice, long time (8 hours or overnight– whatever works for you), I rinsed them thoroughly and plopped them into my Vitamix with 3 cups of water. (The recipe calls for 3-6 cups of water, but I decided to go with the thickest option for my first go-round.)

A quick flick of the ‘On’ switch and about 20 seconds of high-speed whirring later, I had a frothy blend of… um… almonds and water.

The next step was to strain this mixture through a cheesecloth into a new container, so I could separate the curds from the whey, so to speak.

Enter my first error. If you ever decide to make your own almond milk in the future, do not pull your cheesecloth taut over the opening of a pitcher and hold it into place with an elastic band (like I did in the very top photo). This will leave your cheesecloth flush with the brim of your container, and the almond mixture will spill over the sides of the pitcher in about .001 seconds, leaving you with a goopy mess of runny almond paste to clean up. Don’t do it!

Boo! Hiss!

Attempt #2 at straining almond milk: I rescued as much of my almond mixture as I could and cut a new piece of cheesecloth. Thinking I had outsmarted those sneaky, dripping almonds, I lined the inside of a large plastic funnel with the cheesecloth and placed the funnel at the top of my pitcher. Then I poured in my blended almonds.

You can barely see it, but my funnel is propped inside the pitcher. You CAN see the thinnest-of-thin stream of almond milk dripping down from the funnel.

Enter my second error. Trying to strain a bunch of blended almonds through a cheesecloth and a funnel requires patience. Lots of it. Filtered almond milk dripped from the bottom of my funnel at a painfully slow rate, which I guess makes sense when you think about it: Lots of almonds + Cheesecloth + A funnel with a small hole = Not a lot can get through all at once. I win basic physics! Or not.

I tried to expedite the process by giving my cheesecloth a little squeeze. This was not a fabulous idea and was actually my third error. I didn’t really secure any loose corners of the cheesecloth when I did this, so almond mixture oozed out over the sides of my cheesecloth and down into my funnel. Globs of almond grits then fell into the filtered almond milk before I could prevent it from happening, meaning that I had to start the process all over again. (Again.)

Ahem. Attempt #3 at straining my stupid almond milk: I lined the inside of a wire-mesh sieve with a new piece of cheesecloth. My sieve didn’t fit into the mouth of my pitcher (at all), so I had to play a little balancing game with it using one hand and pour my almond mixture into the sieve with my other hand.

Nice fit FAIL. The rubber handle on the sieve is relatively heavy, so it kept slipping down to the right hand side and causing general straining mayhem.

Using the sieve would have been the winning strategy if I had chosen a container with a wider mouth to rest beneath it. As it stood, straining the milk was STILL awkward because I insisted on catching the filtered milk with my cheap-ass, narrow-mouthed plastic pitcher. Heh. If you decide to make almond milk in the future, line a sieve with a cheesecloth and then just use a mixing bowl to catch your filtered milk! You can always put the milk into a pitcher afterward. (*She says, completely after the fact.*)

Things got easier after I squeezed the last few drops of almond milk out of the cheesecloth (and managed to avoid simultaneously squeezing almond meal into the precious filtered liquid). I rinsed my Vitamix container, poured the filtered almond milk into it, and added 1/4 cup of pitted dates, 1 Tbsp coconut butter, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. (The recipe also called for 1 Tbsp of lecithin granules, but honestly: who has lecithin just lying around? Not even I do, and I believe that says something. I left the lecithin out.) Whir went my Vitamix at high speed, and voila! I had a pitcher half-filled with homemade almond milk.

This morning was the true test. I checked on my almond milk in the fridge while I was making breakfast, and I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see that it had separated out into three distinct layers. (That is where the lecithin would have come in handy.) Not to worry. I just shook it up and added it to my Honey Chai Tea anyway after breakfast. Some stray almond grits instantly floated to the top of my cup, making it look like I had added curdled cream to my tea, but the milk actually tasted really good. I enjoyed the thicker consistency of the milk and felt proud of myself for making this “easy” recipe from scratch!

The saddest/grossest looking cup of chai you'll ever see. I sprinkled some cinnamon on top, and then the mystery almond meal floating at the surface looked more deliberate. Heh. Despite its sketchy appearance, the tea and milk tasted really great. I swear!

I’ll most likely attempt this almond milk recipe again, and when I do– I’ll be sure to use a mixing bowl underneath my sieve for straining purposes. I’ll also add a tiny bit less vanilla, because (as much as I love me some bourbon vanilla extract), I practically got drunk off of it when I had a few tablespoons of almond milk in my chai latté. Even 1tsp was a lot of vanilla!

My next Vitamix task will be to tackle some sort of flour: oat, rye, or maybe buckwheat flour for pancakes. I bought both a ‘wet’ and a ‘dry’ container for my Vitamix, so I’m really curious to see what this baby can do with some ordinary rye kernels!