The holidays are a great time to indulge. It’s cold, you have family around you and a little time off of work to spend a little more time in the kitchen. But after a few weeks or months of indulging it can be difficult to get back into your normal dietary routine, and instead, opt for some mac n’ cheese or leftover stuffing.

Let’s get something out of the way. Cards on the table. I am not known for my stellar healthy food choices, I love making big meals, full of cheese and carbs and all of the other things we’re supposed to have in moderation. I cook casseroles like I’m attending a Tupperware party in the 1950s and nothing gives me greater joy than sneaky late night bites of cold baked ziti. But, for the good of my heart and my family I at least try and maintain a healthy balance, a feat easier in the summer when using my stove seems like an invitation to heat stroke.

So, from your friendly neighborhood non-health nut, here are some of the recipes and tricks I use to help me combat the winter sluggishness. Quick note: This is not a “lose the holiday weight” diet, those always seem like punishments for food decadence which is a philosophy to which I do not subscribe. I also don’t like the word “toxins”, so you’re not going to find it here or “detox”. I think of this as a way to reset and recharge, sometimes you need a jolt to get you back on track and back on the foods that give you energy instead of making you sleepy.

Prepare Yourself

  • For this recharge, you have to cut some stuff out of your diet for a few days. Those things are salt, dairy, sugar, white flour, red meat, and alcohol. Some people will tell you to cut out caffeine, I say try to reduce your intake.
  • I usually do this over a period of 5-10 days and occasionally longer if needed.
  • You’re not just taking out foods, you’re adding.
    • Avoid “replacement” items. My friend, who also doubles as the world’s happiest vegan often complains about how people will buy tofu or faux-food, instead of looking for foods you may not have thought to incorporate into your daily diet. 
    • Water! Water! Water! It’s great for your kidney function and flushing out your liver. It will also help you get a more restful sleep.
    • I cannot commit to daily green juices throughout the year, but I can manage for a few days. I personally think it helps with sugar withdrawal.
    • Giving up caffeine seems like a nightmare, so instead maybe swap out coffee or soda for a green tea or ginger turmeric.


  • Breakfast
    • Morning Juice
      • I do the same juice every day during my cleanse: Spinach, kale, bananas, turmeric to taste, a touch of honey and a splash of lemon. It’s a drink full of vitamins, the bananas cut the bitterness of the greens. Throw it all in the blender, blend until smooth and then pour it into a glass or your to-go travel cup.
    • Steel Cut Oats
      • This is something I try to do every day anyway but especially when focusing on my health. Throw in some raisins, a little bit of cinnamon and honey to taste. Oats are great for lowering cholesterol and can be fancied up pretty easily with a few additional ingredients.
  • Snacks
    • Popcorn: Simple salt-free and butter free either the microwaveable kind or making on your stove. Add some rosemary and a squeeze of lemon to give it an extra kick!
    • Ants On a Log: You remember this one from when you were a kid! Cut up some celery sticks, add peanut butter (reduced fat) and top with cranberries or raisins. This isn’t just for kids, the peanut butter provides healthy fats that your system needs and the crunch of the celery make it all the more satisfying.
    • Fruit Kebobs: Why not jazz up your snacks? Grill some pineapple, apricot, papaya anything in season that has some hold and then place on a spear. Great for dessert or a weekend pick-me-up.
  • Main Courses
    • Vegan Tacos
      • Pretty simple and fun for the entire family! Using a large piece of lettuce as a wrap, add avocado, corn, black beans, salsa, tomatoes. A squeeze of lemon juice or hot sauce to spice it up and voila!
    • Orzo Salad
      • This one you can usually crank out in about ten minutes. It’s filling without being too weighty and you can mix it up with different veggies.
        • Two cups of orzo pasta (cooked), throw in some fresh diced cucumber, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes (halved), parsley, and red onion. For the dressing, whisk together some olive oil, red wine vinegar, a bit of pepper and honey to taste.
    • Stir Fry in Ginger Sauce
      • A little more complicated but you can give this one a whirl if you’re feeling a little Epicurious, and you can also mix it up a little bit with the sauces to give this a fresh kick.
        • In a large wok or pan add a little bit of water and three tablespoons of canola oil and saute thinly sliced mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, snow peas, and chopped unsalted peanuts. Pour veggies over cooked brown rice and top with ginger sauce (whisked soy sauce, brown sugar, minced fresh ginger and a pinch of cornstarch).


  • So I made it for 6 days and was pretty proud of myself overall. I cheated a bit (leave me alone, it’s my cleanse!) but overall I stuck with the cleanse and approached it with a positive attitude.
  • Salt is a tricky ingredient. It’s in way more dishes than you realize and, for me, the withdrawal is the worst. That being said, I also feel the effects of a salt-free diet faster than anything else. I immediately feel lighter and more hydrated and seem to lose my sugar and salt cravings quickly.
  • I hate to admit it, but I feel better when I don’t have dairy. Every year that I do this cleanse, I mention to my sister that I think I might be slightly lactose intolerant and she reminds me that this is a yearly revelation. I’ll try to keep dairy in moderation this year, but I make no promises.
  • My sleep is so much better when I eat fresh fruits and veggies, avoid dairy and up my water intake. This is a fact that I usually decide to forget by January, but I really do need to drink more water regularly.