A New Year’s Cleanse & Post-Holiday Detox Salad


Twas’ a few days after Christmas, and all through the kitchen


There were desserts and leftovers tempted to go missing…


But please don’t give in! You must be your best–


So you can look amazingggg in that NYE party dress!


I know, I know. It’s SO hard! After a day (days?) of  indulging in festive desserts and drinks, those holiday goodies are still calling your name (and that slice of Mom’s famous apple pie just looks so darn good!). But you won’t give in…right? (Riiiight??) No! Of course not!  And do you want to know why?


Because you have willpower!

You have strength!

You have a gift card to go buy those adorable skinny jeans!

You can say no! 

(And you can bring all of those treats to your office’s break room!)  


There. You see?

No excuses ;)


But in all seriousness, while it’s perfectly healthy to let yourself  indulge now and then, it’s equally important to get your body back on track after you let the whole healthy-eating thing slide for a few days. And what better time for a fresh start than heading into the new year?

Now, I’m not suggesting everyone start a crazy-pants diet or a liquids-only cleanse, like, tomorrow–I actually just finished up a fabulously easy, 6-day cleanse which I will be sharing soon (for those interested in a stricter detox program)– however, it is perfectly possible to give your body a break without purchasing an expensive program. By choosing to eat all-natural, healthy, organic, and nutritious foods, you can work towards detoxing your body naturally while revitalizing your insides, beautifying your outsides, and getting back that youthful, energetic glow.


And who doesn’t want that!?


To get you started, I thought I’d share one of my favorite detox salads that always gets me feeling light, refreshed, and on top of my game after too much food, too little sleep, and a lot of fun ;) .


But first, here are a few quick tips on how to gently detox your body the easy way:



Photo Credit: http://rbgsocialclub.files.wordpress.com

This may seem so simple, but it’s super important. If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t drink as much as you should. Water keeps your brain hydrated and fully functional, replenishes/carries oxygen to your cells, rids your body of toxins, gives skin a healthy glow, helps to maintain your body weight, and aids in digestion/absorption of food. The amount of water each individual needs may vary depending upon factors like  exercise and time of year it is, but experts suggest that 2 quarts is a healthy bet. Trade water or decaffeinated tea for your daily cup of coffee for the best detox results. It is important to stay away from caffeine during a detox due to its dehydrating properties.



Photo Credit: http://athleanx.com


My general rule of thumb is simple: If I can’t pronounce it, I shouldn’t eat it! There are lots of nasty, processed foods out there that can wreak havoc on your body…and even if something is marketed as “healthy,” oftentimes it isn’t. Get into the habit of looking at the list of ingredients before you buy or eat something. If the list tends to have more than 6 ingredients, it most likely includes processed junk that won’t be doing your body any favors. By eating foods as close to their natural state as possible, your body is able to break them down easier and save its energy for more important things…like clearing up your skin, and exercising! Choose items that are all-natural, and free of hydrogenated fats, tran-fats, added sugars–including deceptively healthy (and natural) syrups, dehydrated cane juice, honey, and molasses. (Hint: Anything ending in “ose” or “ol” are probably code words for sugar.) I promise, once you cut these things out of your diet for a few days, you’ll feel (and look!)  like a million bucks!


Photo Credit: http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com

Organic Fruits, veggies, and whole grain options like brown-rice or quinoa, and beans, nuts, and seeds (in moderation) are essential to any detox regimen. Fiber acts like a scrub brush inside your body– clearing out your colon and intestines of icky, toxic, sludge and waste. Some of the best fiber-filled foods are dark, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, artichokes, beets, sea vegetables, carrots, apples, avocados, pears, oranges, kiwi, berries, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, lima beans and navy beans.



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Vitamin C is an essential, water-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps detoxify the body and rid the body of cell-destructive free radicals. Vitamin C also supports immunity/wound healing and aids in bone, skin, and collagen formation/tissue growth and repair. Since the human body cannot manufacture vitamin C on it own, it must be consumed through diet. Fruits and veggies are the best source of this vitamin, particularly citrus fruits, tropical fruits, melons, berries, leafy green vegetables, green peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli.



Photo Credit: http://www.colocrm.com

Oxygen is quite honestly one of the most important nutrients in the human body, yet it’s something we totally take for granted. Think about it–when was the last time you reallythought about your breathing? Chances are if you take a moment to notice how you breathe you’ll find that it’s short and shallow. However, deep breathing is much healthier and has amazing health benefits.  Through deep breathing,  the body is able to take in more oxygen–thus ridding the body of the blood’s waste–carbon dioxide. Deep breathing also helps with relaxation and aids in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Short, constrained breathing can cause mental fog, fatigue, decreased tissue function and a sluggish lymphatic system while deep breathing acts as a pump for the lymphatic system (the system which carries away the body’s nasty toxins–think of it as the body’s natural sewer system). When the body is not taking in enough oxygen, the body’s lymph fluid is not flowing efficiently, and therefore the body cannot detoxify properly. This can lead to a variety of health issues, like fatigue, inflammation, muscle loss, weight gain, and high blood pressure. (I guess those yogis have it right after all!)



Photo Credit: http://www.whattoexpect.com

Physical exercise is one of the best ways to detoxify your body and eliminate environmental toxins (through sweating). It improves your skin (by boosting circulation), gives you that healthy, post-exercise glow, and helps to keep the body’s internal organs running at peak efficiency. Physical exercise also helps to regulate blood sugar which can help reduce sugar cravings that may lead to unhealthy binge eating. Looking for another great way to feel clean and refreshed? Hit the sauna or steam room! While there isn’t any conclusive clinical evidence that saunas promote detoxification, I still love to sweat it out in there a few times a week. It’s relaxing, helps to loosen up my muscles, and makes me feel incredibly lean and refreshed afterwards.


I challenge you to incorporate these detox tips into your daily routine for a few days and assess how your body feels. I guarantee once you begin to see how wonderful your body responds to the healthy changes, you’ll be hooked! For a more comprehensive list of foods to incorporate into your diet, check out this link–it covers the top 50 detox foods (many of which are in my detox salad!) My detox salad recipe (below) is the perfect way to start off your clean-eating detox program. It can be eaten for lunch and dinner or even as an afternoon snack in between meals. It’s quick and easy and will have you feeling healthy, light and revitalized in no time at all!


Post-Holiday Detox Salad



Ingredients: (all organic)

  • 1.5-2 cups of kale (torn or shredded)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded carrots
  • 1/2  of an apple (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon on fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 of an avocado (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of raw sunflower seeds
  • Fresh lemon juice (1/4 to 1/2 of a lemon worth)
  • Flax oil (for drizzling–you could use olive oil if you wanted, but flax oil has great cleansing benefits).
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: fresh grated ginger and a dash or celtic sea salt






  • Mix all the first five ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Drizzle with flax oil and lemon juice and massage the dressing into the salad.
  • Add cayenne pepper, black pepper and any other spices (tot taste) and massage well again.
  • Top with raw sunflower seeds and avocado and ENJOY :) .



It’s important to keep in mind– those who are used to processed, salty, packaged foods may have a hard time at first with the taste of natural, fresh, real foods. But please, please PLEASE don’t give up too soon! I PROMISE you’re taste buds will change over time and you will become more accustomed to the taste of natural ingredients. Eventually, your body will actually crave these things!


The best detox advice I can give however is to just stick with it and take baby steps. If you try to overhaul you entire diet in a day you’re just setting yourself up to fail. Start by revamping one meal a day, then two, then try swapping that bag of M&Ms for a bag of grapes or munch on some carrot sticks and hummus instead of vending machine potato chips. As with any lifestyle change, it takes effort, and yes, time for your body to get used to the new habits–especially if you’ve been on an unhealthy path for a long time. Just keep in mind…the rewards are SO worth it! Whether you’re trying to fit into that teeny tiny bikini for your upcoming vacation, training to run a half marathon, or looking to have more energy to chase around your kids, remember…


What you put into your body determines what you get OUT of your body!


It’s your life. Don’t you deserve to be the best version of YOURSELF that you can be?


I sure think so :) .



Healthfully Yours,


Ashley Michelle





How to Eat Clean

What to Eat-Limiting Sugar

What is Clean Eating

Vitamin C to Detox the Body

Foods that Cleanse the Colon

Benefits of Alkaline Foods




Spiced-Up Cranberry-Orange Holiday “Stuffing”


Get your forks ready…


Because you’ll want to eat THIS stuffing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Yep. It’s just that good.


Yesterday I was out for a very quick and very chilly 6-mile run during my lunch break (one of the many perks of working right by the Charles River) when I started thinking about what to make for Thanksgiving. I absolutely love experimenting in the kitchen and testing out new recipes around the holidays– there are just so many cozy ingredients to use in such a short amount of time! Plus, the holidays provide me with LOTS of willing (perhaps unsuspecting?) taste-testers and food critics to impress ;) .


I don’t know about you, but I come up with some of my best ideas while working out– especially recipe-related ideas (I guess I just get reallllly hungry burning off all that energy :) ).  It’s no wonder, then, that I came up with this amazing recipe right around mile four as I was passing the Mass. Ave Bridge.


Now, my aunt who hosts Thanksgiving (and pretty much every other holiday!) is  a regular Martha Stewart through and through. From the food being served to the table decor, she has the whole Thanksgiving spread thing down to a science. If there’s a traditional Thanksgiving dish to be found, you can bet it’s on her table! Therefore, the last thing I wanted to do was step on her toes or throw off the system by bringing a repeat Thanksgiving dish. That meant traditional stuffing was out, and my healthy, vegan, spiced-up “stuffing” was so IN.


Since I won’t be getting my protein from the Thanksgiving turkey like the rest of my family, I knew I wanted to whip up a tasty dish that would be both filling and protein-rich. Quinoa was the obvious choice here– just 3.5 ounces packs 14 grams of protein! However, since some members of my family (especially the boys) can be pretty picky, (I can hear them now… “QUIN-WHAT??”) I wanted to balance this healthy grain with something a little more familiar, like couscous, to please all palates.


Spicy, sweet, and fruity with just a touch of heat…



This dish is sure to be an instant crowd-pleaser!


Spiced-Up Holiday “Stuffing”



  • 1/2 cup of Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 cup of quinoa (I used a mix between red and white quinoa)
  • 1 large apple, chopped (I used Fuji)
  • 1 large pear, chopped (I used Bosc)
  • 1 cup of kale (shredded)
  • 1 cup of carrots (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup of 100% carrot juice (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 3/4 cup of low-sodium vegetable broth (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of shelled pistachios
  • Juice from 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice plus 1/4 teaspoon (feel free to add more/adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon (feel free to add more/adjust to taste)
  • 4 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • Dash of ginger
  • Dash of pepper
  • Optional: Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Heat one teaspoon of coconut oil in a medium skillet and toast the couscous until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
  • Pour carrot juice and vegetable broth into a medium pot, then add toasted couscous, quinoa, and cinnamon stick.
  • Bring the mixture to a full boil and then reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes (until quinoa is fully cooked and little white sprouts appear). Remove cinnamon stick.
  • Mix 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to cooked stuffing mixture.
  • In a medium skillet, heat one teaspoon of coconut oil.
  • While oil is heating, toss apple and pear chunks with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Turn heat to medium high and add apple/pear mixture. Cook until fruit becomes soft and sticky, then add the fruit mixture to the stuffing mixture.
  • In same skillet, heat one teaspoon of coconut oil on medium heat and sauté kale until wilted. Add the kale to the stuffing mixture.
  • In same skillet, heat one teaspoon of coconut oil on medium heat and sauté shredded carrots until soft and wilted. Add the carrots to the stuffing mixture.
  • While the pan is still hot, add the dried cranberries and pistachios. Quickly stir the mixture around until cranberries are soft (30 seconds or so).
  • Add the cranberries and pistachios to stuffing mixture.
  • Squeeze the juice from half of an orange into the stuffing mixture and season with ginger, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (to taste).
  • Mix well.
  • Garnish with a cinnamon stick and an orange peel.
  • NOTE: If stuffing is too dry, add a splash of carrot juice or vegetable broth to moisten it up a bit.


Go ahead. Stuff yourself :) .



Healthfully Yours,


Ashley Michelle