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5 Foods to Detox Your Mind, Body, and Spirit


They’re in everything: In the water, in the meat, in the plastic, in the lining of our aluminum cans.

They can also be in our thoughts. 

They are the heavy sediments that sneak in through our subconscious and linger in our pores.  They are undetectable…until they make us sick. 

We can invest in air filters and juice cleanses, but are we also investing the time and energy to undergo a mental detox?  Are we investing in cleansing breaths, positive energy, colorful laughter with friends, spicy new adventures?  Are we shunning the destructive self-criticism with the same diligence we shun pesticides?

As a chef, I am asked for Detox recipes that promote new Spring energy.  Yet detox foods can do more than inspire a change in your digestion. 

These 5 Detox Foods can inspire a change in your entire mind, body, and spirit:



Red Chili



Turmeric for Color

Turmeric for Color

1)      Turmeric for COLOR

Turmeric’s bright yellow color gives blended curry powder its trademark golden hue.  While the Western scientific community isn’t sold on the benefits of turmeric in humans, it has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as a natural inflammatory and blood-thinner.  The magic substance in turmeric responsible for its benefits is curcumin.  Curcumin is an antioxidant that can battle the free radicals that cause cancer.  It lowers blood-clotting ability of platelets, thereby thinning the blood.  It reduces the levels of two enzymes linked to inflammation.  These powerful effects make it a prime candidate as a natural treatment for cancer, osteoarthritis, indigestion, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Outside of the body, let turmeric’s powers also help release the inflammation of toxic energy.  Let it thin the heat that can rise in battered relationships.  Maybe it’s time to heal the wounded scars that have built between old acquaintances.  Maybe it’s time to tend to mend old wounds and thin the thickening resentment that anger can elicit.  Or maybe it’s just time to let go and move on.

Turmeric’s orange-yellow gives this Napa Cabbage Detox Soup a kiss of golden color.  Spicy crunch from daikon radish and carrot play with the subtle sweetness of Napa cabbage in a fat-free, oil-free broth.  Savor a bowl and savor the release of inflamed resentment.

Ginger for Warmth

Ginger for Warmth

2)      Ginger for WARMTH

Picture this: The first touch of Spring sun.  Months of winter’s cold, dreary gray have finally started to thaw.  You step outside to feel that first beam of Spring’s warmth.  The heat begins on the tops of your cheeks.  Give it a moment.  Let it soak in.  Feel it makes its way to your ears, down your neck, deep in your belly, down to the soles of your feet.  Let that warmth shine on you and swaddle you.

Find this simple warmth in your life and bathe in it.  The love of a parent, the laughter of friends, the support of a workout buddy.  Bathe in the ripple effect these warm interactions have on you.  Let them permeate your skin, soaking in deep below the surface.  Feel them like that first sunbeam of Spring – from your cheeks all the way to the soles of your feet.

Let GINGER also warm you, from your taste buds to your belly.  Fresh ginger provides the backbone to this Spiced Carrot Fennel Soup.  Add as much or as little as you like and let the warmth flow through you.

Red Chili Pepper for Spice

Red Chili Pepper for Spice

3)      Red Chili for SPICE

Cleaning out the junk and letting go of heavy baggage opens space and frees energy for new adventures.

Go for it.
Add some spice. 
Sign up for a new fitness class, take piano lessons, look for a new job, plan a trip somewhere new.  Try.  Explore. 
Surprise yourself.
Find new ways to add a little excitement and spice to your life.

Red chili and its spicy relatives contain capsaicin, a natural analgesic pain-reliever, used in anti-inflammatory medications and treatments.  Research has seven pointed to the possibility of capsaicin to fight cancer cells, as it has been shown to block mitochondrial respiration, essentially causing “cancer suicide”.  While scientists continue to investigate, let’s continue to eat. 

This SPICY Basil Spaghetti Squash is a healthy, gluten-free dinner that packs some Asian heat.  You can use any vegetables in the stir-fry (snap peas are one of my Spring favorites) and scale back or up on the amount of chili paste depending on your heat tolerance. 

Try something new.  Surprise yourself.  Bring some spice.

Vinegar to Cleanse

Vinegar to Cleanse

4)      Vinegar to CLEANSE

One classic trick for cleaning the surface of bathroom sinks and tiles is the vinegar + baking soda trick.  My grandma taught me this essential homemade recipe  to create a foaming reaction that would help eat away build-up and scum.  Think of the gratification that comes with scrubbing away that moldy grime.  You put in a little elbow grease.  You scrub away the build-up up to restore the white surface.  The simple joy of having a clean sink brings you satisfaction.

Use that “scrubbing away” memory to also scrub away the build-up of your life.  Those old stains of negative thoughts and self-sabotage have subtly been building up for years.  The echoes of “I can’t” or “I don’t deserve” can sneak up until it’s hard to remember the clean white hope that is buried under then.

It’s time to scrub them away.  Apply some agitation, some foam, some bubbles from a new voice that says “I can” “I deserve” “I will”.  Go after these stains with a little elbow grease.  Restore the white surface.  Be satisfied with the simple of joy of a clean, fresh start.

These Pickled Red Onions bring a tangy, vinegary kick to any entrée.  Use them to top Black Bean Burgers, Mushroom Tacos, or just as a crunchy bite over salad and baked potatoes.  Let them clean away the dirty grime of negativity and inspire a new beginning.

5)      Water to PURIFY

Clean, Glacial Water

There is no debate that water is essential for humans.  Our bodies naturally crave more water when dealing with stressful situations.  We crave it when we are physically active, unable to think straight, at higher elevation, and even feverish.  No fancy juice concoctions are needed.  Just pure, simple water.

Bathe in the pure simplicity of a glass of water.  Savor the time it takes to sip every drop.  Water is cool, clear, neutral.  Let it remind you to see the world with a cool, clear, neutral perspective.  Nature’s simplest form of nourishment is nothing more than 3 molecules, sustaining vitality to all living creatures.   

For further reading on Detox diet foods and Research:

Turmeric, from University of Maryland Medical Center:

More Than Spice: Capsaicin in Hot Chili Peppers Makes Tumor Cells Commit Suicide, Journal of the National Cancer Institute:

11 Reasons You Need to Drink More Water, By Shereen Lehman, MS - Reviewed by a board-certified physician.: Updated April 18, 2016 or

Do detox diets offer any health benefits? Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. at the Mayo Clinic:

About the Author:

Chicago Personal Chef Katie Simmons

Chicago Personal Chef Katie Simmons


Chef Katie Simmons

Katie is a Personal Chef based in Chicago.  She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, and low-residue.  Outside of the kitchen, she is a Fitness Instructor for Equinox, with over 13 years experience in the fitness industry, and a blogger for Kuli Kuli Foods.  For fun, she loves to travel, with her most recent travel involving 10 days of hiking in the Patagonia of Argentina and Chile.