I don't know about you, but today I am eating black-eyed peas and collard greens. These are the traditional southern foods that are said to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year; and should be consumed on New Year's Day. I'm not taking any chances! ;)
We hear a lot about "detoxing" this time of year, but what does it really mean, and do we need to detox?
Here's my take: Toxins are a real threat to health. They are either produced inside the body (as by-products of eating, drinking and breathing) or enter the body as water or air pollution, chemical by-products in our food and poor dietary choices like high fructose corn syrup and denatured, rancid vegetable oils.
Luckily, we have built in systems in our amazing bodies that help to facilitate the removal of toxins. The liver, gallbladder, lymph system and large intestine all play important roles in removing toxins from our bodies. However, these systems can get overwhelmed in our modern society because of unprecedented pollution, exposure to chemicals in plastics, cleaning products and personal care products and nutritional deficiencies/poor dietary choices. The truth is, we are detoxing every day, some may just be doing it better than others! I don't know about you, but over this holiday season I indulged in a few foods that I normally wouldn't eat. which has left me feeling a bit sluggish and tired.
The body requires certain nutrients in order to carry out its detoxification processes. If we aren't giving our bodies these nutrients, either from our food or through specific herbal and nutritional supplements, our detoxification system can become compromised.
Some symptoms of poor detoxification can include: headaches, mood issues, digestive difficulties, low energy, fatty liver, hormonal imbalances, acne, allergies, body pain and more. Read this article from Dr. Mark Hyman about how low glutathione (the body's master detoxifier and anti-oxidant) plays a role in almost all chronic disease.
I made this soup today with ingredients especially targeted to facilitate detoxification (and to encourage a happy new year!):
Ingredients in this Soup that Aid Detoxification:
Collard Greens - Collards are in the cruciferous, or brassica, vegetable family. These veggies (which also include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and others) are rich in sulfur and also have precursors to glutathione production, which is the body's most powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. The bitter taste of collard greens also stimulates bile flow to remove toxins.
Onions and Garlic- Rich in sulfur, selenium and antioxidants to help the liver complete its detox duties.
Artichoke - Has been prized for centuries as a potent tonic for liver health and especially gallbladder health; it assists with bile flow to help remove the converted toxins from the liver
Turmeric - My old friend turmeric again. I've written about it for it's anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant capability. However, it also aids the liver to secrete toxins and stimulates bile flow.
Gelatin - A natural component in traditionally prepared bone broth, it contains important amino acids (specific proteins that aid in many metabolic functions) like glycine and cysteine which serve as raw materials to help the liver do it's job.
Lemon Juice - In Chinese medicine, the sour taste is said to stimulate the liver. Lemons are also rich in Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant and aids in some important processes for liver detoxification.
Fiber - Found in ample supply in this soup in the black-eyed peas and the veggies, fiber is crucial to bind the toxins that the liver has packaged up for removal, and facilitate their exit through the large intestine. If the toxins can't get out - the detox was for nothing!
New Year's Good Luck/Detox Soup
Generous "glug" of olive oil (a couple of tablespoons)
1 package frozen artichoke hearts (I used Trader Joes)
1/4 cup lemon juice, organic
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 cups collard greens, chopped (I was lucky enough to get some fresh from my parent's garden)
4 celery ribs, organic, diced
6 cups chicken broth (either homemade and prepared traditionally, or add some gelatin to organic store-bought broth if you are short on time)
1 can black-eyed peas, or cooked from fresh or dried (Eden brand canned beans are the best in my opinion, because there is no BPA in the can lining)
1 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pour olive oil into large pot and heat to medium-low. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add in carrots and celery.
2. Once the veggies are soft, add your broth. Also put in the bay leaf at this time.
3. Turn up the heat to bring to a simmer. Add the artichoke hearts and the black-eyed peas. You can add your turmeric now too. Cook for about 10 minutes or so, until everything is tender.
4. Turn off heat and add your lemon juice, collard greens and salt and pepper to taste.
That's it! You can add some protein like chicken, turkey or grass-fed beef if you need a more substantial meal (quality protein assists detoxification too - but I opted for a lighter soup today).
I'm wishing you all the best in 2016! Happy and Healthy New Year!