Cleanse Recipes Part 2 – Our Salads

I remember once having a conversation with some girlfriends and one of them telling the group that she read an article regarding general eating habits that were discovered of thin people.

One of those habits was eating a salad with their meal. I remember the concept feeling so foreign to me. I don’t know why. It just didn’t feel easy or natural. I would have never thought then that I would make a salad for myself and my husband almost every single day for almost 2 years (and hopefully for the rest of our lives!)

But that’s how it goes in all journeys. Things that seem unnatural or difficult or tedious become common play after a while. And then you can’t even remember the reasons why it felt so impossible before.

So salads are a big thing in my house. It is our lunch. Almost every day, pretty much without exception. Sounds miserable? I promise you its not!!!!

Salads give us the opportunity to eat RAW, load up on good calories, stay healthy, and pile on the greens! And the beauty of it is that salads allow for so much variety.

When we first started this blog, I posted about my lunch salads and gave a guideline of the ingredients I used. But of course, as we evolve, so does our blog. I no longer put corn in our salads. Is corn absolutely delicious and sweet….YES…is it good for you….NO! Most corn is genetically modified and high in fructose. At least that’s what the hype is. And although I love it and will not hesitate to eat a corn at the cob at the Youth fair, I’ve chosen to remove it from our daily salads. I used to think that my salads wouldn’t taste good without corn, but once again, we have learned to love salads without corn and are doing just fine! The same goes with Craisins. We love craisins, but they have added sugar. Instead, we now put raisins. They are still high in sugar and add a nice sweetness to our salads, however, they have no added sugar which I prefer.

So, every day I prepare a different salad. Sometimes its out of this world delicious and sometimes its just ok. But everyday its good for our bodies.

Here are some of my basic recipes:

Salad #1 – (I always use olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon to dress my salads.)

  • Organic Spinach
  • sprinkle of sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1/4 sliced apple
  • sprinkle of raisins
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • shaved carrots

Salad #2 –

  • Organic spring mix
  • a couple of broccoli florets raw
  • 1 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of flax seeds
  • 2 red beets
  • 1/4 sliced pear
  • shaved carrots
  • sprinkle of raisins
  • sprinkle of sliced almonds

Salad #3-

  • Any leafy greens I have (sometimes I mix kale and romaine or butterhead lettuce and collards…just depends on what I have in the fridge)
  • 1/2 zucchini sliced (raw)
  • 1/2 yellow squash sliced (raw)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • sprinkle of raisins
  • sprinkle of almonds
  • shaved carrots
  • 1/4 sliced pear or apple
  • 1 red beet sliced

The truth is that these combinations work with any number of substitutions. I rely heavily on what i have at home and on ripeness. If I used a pear in my smoothie I toss the remainder in my salad. I focus on not wasting my ingredients.

Ok, the last week of the Whole Living cleanse is week three:

Fruits, veggies, seafood, nuts and seeds, eggs, gluten free grains.

Orlando has successfully completed his fast and whole living cleanse right before his 36th birthday. And lost 10lbs that creeped up on him during the holidays and fantasy football season.

These salads were great for Orlando’s cleanse because they were no different than what he had been eating before.  Note: I did not put any eggs in his salad until week three.

Next week we will post some of our dinner recipes used during the cleanse. Have a great week!!!!!

The last post about the Cleanse – Dinner recipes and the aftermath

Hello all! This is the longest stretch I have ever gone without posting since I began this blog. To be honest, I have so many things to share, I don’t even know where to begin.

First things first…the recipes.  There are way too many recipes to put in a single post so I’ve decided to share with you a list of recipes that we used during these weeks. Some of these recipes have already been posted and you can see them in our recipe page. The other ones will be posted separately.

Week 1 dinners included:
Beet soup with a side of beet tops – My favorite part about this recipe is the beet tops. Did you know that beet tops are even more nutritious than the actual beet? And they are delicious sauteed in some olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper!!!! I will elaborate more on the health benefits of beet tops in a separate post.

Butternut squash soup – this recipe was Orlando’s favorite cleanse recipe of all. He fell in love with this soup and made it several times throughout the cleanse in large batches. Then we would have it for dinner or lunch on other days.

Veggie tray – the veggie tray is Orlando’s concoction of different roasted vegetables.

Ratatouille without cheese or grains

Week 2 & 3 dinners included:

  • Butternut squash soup – it’s really yummy!!!!!
  • Salmon with a veggie side such as roasted asparagus or sauteed leeks, shallots, and asparagus, or broccoli
  • Snapper with a side of veggies and cauliflower mash
  • Salmon en Papillote

Now for the aftermath:

These are my thoughts about the cleanse. My perspective might differ from Orlando’s. But from observing him, this is what I gathered.

The cleanse started out great. The 48 hour fast put Orlando in a good place. It made him feel powerful. It is an empowering feeling to know that you can control your hunger… that you control food instead of food controlling you. He broke his fast with a delicious ratatouille. We had never had ratatouille without cheese or grains and it was actually delicious. The first week of the cleanse went well also because it just feels so good to eat so clean.

The nicorette gum was terribly difficult for Orlando. He gave up too much all at once and he wasn’t feeling well. He decided for his own sake to wean off the nicorette gum instead of quit cold turkey. He had 2 gums a day for the first two weeks of the cleanse, then he weaned to one and I am so happy to say he is OFF NICORETTE ENTIRELY!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!

So far so good. The cleanse was going well…and then we hit the second weekend. Weekends are rough on all of us. Orlando is not really a fall off the wagon on the weekends kind of guy. For the most part he eats well. But he likes his drink. He loves to have his cigar and wine or scotch on the weekends.  The weekends are relaxed from our routine. So when the weekend hit, it sucked that Orlando couldn’t have a nice glass of wine with his cigar. But that wasn’t all, he couldn’t have anything. No chocolate, no cheese, no meat, no sauces, nothing.  Going out to eat was very difficult. He found himself simply not eating. Side note: we did go to Ruby Tuesdays and were shocked with their great selection of vegetables.  We recommend to anyone who is trying to stay healthy.

By the time he got to week 3 he was done. He was cranky. He was irritable. He wanted cheese on his Ratatouille. He wanted a piece of chocolate after dinner. He wanted his life back. He was so done that on the last day of his cleanse we visited his father in Hialeah and went to a little market that had awful disgusting food. And Orlando would have devoured it at that point. He was in such a bad place. And what’s funny is that he wouldn’t touch that food normally, but he was just sick and tired of not having a choice.

My opinion is that he did the cleanse for too long and it goes against what we promote in the first place…to have a healthy, balanced lifestyle. During the last week, he began to respond as if he were on a “diet” that he couldn’t wait to get off. It only strengthened my view that diets simply don’t work. Life is to enjoy. We are not meant to feel deprived all the time.  When we put ourselves in a place of constant sacrifice to lose weight…then we eventually lose weight, are tired of the sacrifice…and rebel…hence, we gain weight and the vicious cycle begins again.

I think the biggest reason we have successfully kept a healthy lifestyle is because we have learned to enjoy eating healthy. We are not bored to tears with our food choices  or eating bland food day in, day out. We have found delicious “alternatives” to the food we used to enjoy. We pick and choose what we cut out of our diet. We can eat a pizza on the weekend if we really want to. We are super clean during the week and then on the weekend we relax a little. If there is something we really want we have it. For me for example it might be ice cream cake at a birthday party. For Orlando it’ll be his scotch during a domino game. Its the 90/10 split that I always promote. If you make good choices 90% of the time, the other 10% doesn’t count. The key is to keep it at 10% only!!!!! Orlando gained a little weight during holiday/fantasy football season, and its because his exceptions were more than 10%, and he unfortunately has the tendency to gain weight.

But the cleanse was a different story. It was 100% all the time, no exceptions. And it took its toll. I would venture to say that it even had a negative effect on Orlando. The things he loved before his cleanse even became boring for him afterwards…like his lunch salad. He even started complaining about cooking. He was tired of chopping vegetables. He lost motivation.

The results were good from a weight perspective. Orlando lost the 10lbs he gained. But worth it??? I guess only he can answer that. I think a 1 week cleanse would have given him a jump start and he could’ve gone back to his 90/10 lifestyle and maybe it would have taken a little bit longer to lose those extra pounds but it would’ve been better.

But all in all, it was a great learning experience. Now we are back to our middle ground. After a couple of weeks of feeling worn down from the cleanse,Orlando has recouped and is happily back to his salads for lunch and although he does want to cut down a little on the cooking, he is finding ways to simplify his veggie chopping and making quicker meals.

And so my friends, the journey to health, happiness, and balance continues for our family. We hope it continues for yours also.

Cleanse Recipes Part 1

Orlando has successfully completed 2 weeks of his cleanse. Here is the breakdown:

Week 1 – fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds
Week 2 – fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, seafood

I realize that sometimes the most challenging part of changing your diet is that you don’t know where to begin. That’s why we all desperately look for sample menus or recipes. The whole concept appears bigger than our minds can handle. This used to happen to us. I believe our success in this process has been in keeping it simple.

Especially when doing things like a cleanse which is so strict or when starting a lifestyle change, sticking to a simple regimen makes it easier for us to follow through with it. Then when it gets boring or you’re more comfortable with the foods you’re eating, then you can start incorporating more alternatives.

The basic meal plan is as follows:

Smoothies for breakfast
Salads for lunch
Powersnack balls or almonds for snack
Hot Dinner

There are so many things I’d like to share about the cleanse that i’m having a hard time putting it all in one post so I’ve decided to do several posts regarding the recipes used during the cleanse.

Let’s begin with a few recipes for our morning smoothies:

I’ve made all sorts of smoothies in the past but during these 2 weeks I’ve really focused on cleansers for us to maximize orlando’s detox month.

I bought a few herb plants: parsley, mint, thyme, cilantro, basil, oregano and put them in my backyard. I’ve been taking advantage of them!!!

Smoothie #1 (Orlando’s favorite)

  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • celery
  • cucumber
  • lemon
  • pear
  • water

Smoothie #2 (my favorite)

  • cilantro
  • cucumber
  • pineapple
  • blueberries
  • lemon
  • water

Smoothie #3

  • celery
  • parsley
  • lemon
  • ginger
  • apple
  • stevia
  • water

Smoothie #4

  • cucumber
  • celery
  • lemon
  • green superfood
  • pear
  • water
  • stevia

The great thing about these smoothies have been their consistency. Orlando does not like the seedy smoothies and he really doesn’t like it when the smoothies are thick. But we do smoothies instead of juicing in order to preserve the fiber content of the fruits and veggies. Well, the beauty of these is that they come out juice-like. Much smoother than some of the other smoothies and Orlando likes drinking them a lot more. I use the nutribullet for these and I make sure to always add water to the max line and they are great.

All these variations are great for cleansing the system, great for the skin and quick and easy to make in the mornings.



PowerSnack Balls Recipe

Uhhhh, I know it took me soooo long to get this recipe on here!! This has been a crazy week for us!

So no more waiting here is Orlando’s delicious recipe for our snack balls: (he took the receipe from Whole Living and made it his way)

nuts and dried fruit. no added sugar. hemp, chia, flax, and sesame seeds

power Snack Balls

To make the small batch:

  • 1 cup of random dried fruits whichever you like, just make sure they have no sugar added (whole foods). I used 2 different types of dates, figs, and dried banana.
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 2 cups of your favorite nuts (we did 1 cup almonds 1 cup pecans)
  • 1/4 cup of healthy seeds (we used chia, flax, and hemp)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dry, unsweetened shredded coconut


  • Put nuts in food processor and process until they are chopped small (30 seconds or so). Remove to a bowl
  • Put dried fruits in food processor until it forms a paste. You will know its done when the paste is formed and starts to roll around in the processor like dough in a mixer.
  • Knead the fruit and nuts together until all the nuts are incorporated into the fruit. It takes a couple of minutes. At first it will appear as if you will never get all the nuts into the paste, but keep kneading it and they will all incorporate into the paste.
  • Form into a meatloaf size loaf.
  • You can now either roll them into 1/2 inch balls or slice the loaf with a knife and cut them into small squares (much less time consuming).
  • Now press the balls or squares into a bowl filled with coconut and sesame seeds. You can do one or the other or both.


Note that when I made the above recipe those things lasted only one day in my house, so next time I doubled the recipe.

A little side note:

Food has become a major part of our life as a family. Eating healthy requires planning, preparing, shopping, cooking…its a process. ESPECIALLY, when its a learned behavior like it is for us. Sounds exhausting, but its actually really nice. We talk about what we’re going to eat for the week, we explore new ingredients and recipes together, and we each have our roles in the kitchen. Orlando is the head chef, I take care of most of the raw stuff, i.e. breakfast and lunch, and the boys help us with the preparing of food (as much as they can on the days we can afford the mess!)

The process makes all of us conscious and aware of what we’re putting in our mouths.

So if you have kids old enough to help, and you want to make them a part of your health journey, invite them to the kitchen and let them get a little dirty rolling balls in sesame seeds or kneading nuts and fruits. I believe this encourages them to try new things and empowers them! DSC_0343DSC_0340DSC_0335DSC_0336


Goodbye Fast, Hello Detox!

After I posted a few days ago about Orlando’s 36 hour fast, I’ve been getting emails, texts, and phone calls wondering how it went, if he survived and details about the experience. So we decided to share. The fast was only supposed to be from Thursday after dinner to Saturday morning. 36 hours. He was then going to spring into his cleanse. On Saturday morning, when he woke up I asked him what he wanted to eat for breakfast. He didn’t want breakfast! He wasn’t hungry anymore!!!! We had baseball that morning so he told me he would wait until lunchtime to eat. Lunch turned to dinner and before we knew it, Orlando had fasted for 48 hours. Nothing but water, lemons, and green superfood for 48 hours!!!! It was incredible to see how he continued to push himself during the fast. We even went to Costco during the whole thing and he never broke down emotionally even though he was surrounded by food…and those little sample taste carts that surround the Costco aisles!

As for the Nicorette, he had 2 nicorette gums on day 1 of the fast and 2 nicorette gums on day 2. This was a huge step for him considering that he consumes approximately 10-15 gums on a regular day. He initially intended to quit cold turkey but started to fear that he was putting his body/brain under too much distress. That could have negative consequences, because it is so highly addictive that it messes with your brain chemistry. The goal is to cleanse to be healthy not produce unhealthy results. So he has chosen to taper off, dramatically, but not cold turkey. As we posted earlier, this gum is his biggest challenge.  His withdrawal symptoms have included anxiety and a lot of pressure in his head. Not so much a headache as pressure in the brain.  But he has continued to work through it and I am so incredibly awed by him.

So now he moves on to the cleanse. He’s basing his cleanse criteria on a cleanse offered by Whole Living

One of my best friends did this cleanse last year and told us about it. I took some recipes from there back then and now we’re using it as a guide for Orlando. Note: there is a 2013 cleanse offered by them, but I like this one better because it is stricter.

So Orlando is in week 1 of the cleanse which means he is only eating:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • plant based fats- nuts, seeds, and oils

He broke his fast on Saturday evening with a delicious Ratatouille. He made a few changes to this recipe, for example, he added brussel sprouts, carrots, and broccoli. He did NOT use any cheese or put it on a bed of grains such as Quinoa or Couscous. So really it turned more into a vegetable casserole. IMG_2336It was absolutely delicious!!!!

On Sunday he made a delicious Beet Soup for lunch. And we had the leftover Ratatouille for dinner.

And…. he made what I like to call PowerSnack Balls to have for the week! He grabbed the idea from the Whole Living recipes and tweeked it to make it his own. Basically its a ball made out of dried fruit (no sugar added! we could only find it at Whole Foods), nuts, and seeds. Stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow. It is totally worth it!!!! I don’t even like dried fruit and I LOVED those PowerSnack balls!

So we are ready to attack the week and we’ll keep you posted of his progress along the way. And yes…even though the kids and I are not participating in the cleanse, we do eat a lot of the same things as he does.  I’m just not eliminating things like my coffee for breakfast or my dark chocolate for dessert, or the kids yogurt for example. But what he makes is what we eat as a family and that way we all benefit from his cleanse!

Have a wonderful week!

A new challenge beginning with a fast

My husband has made a lot of changes in the last few years. The most significant are that he stopped smoking cigarettes the day our first son was born…and that he lost 60 lbs. Well, it should always be our goal to continue to improve and change and be better. And I’m proud to say Orlando is constantly aiming to improve, change, and be better.

The one thing he has been clutching on to with both hands is Nicorette gum. That one really got him hooked. The problem is that its absolutely terrible for you. Besides the obvious nicotine factor, our doctor explained to him that it has all sorts of chemicals that affect the liver, etc. Even the label warns you not to use the product for more than a certain period of time, I believe 6 months or so. But yet my husband has been chewing the gum for 4 years and 4 months. So the time has come for him. It will probably be harder than any challenge he has had in the past. And because he tends to be an all or nothing kind of guy, he decided to take a month to do a full body cleanse. No alcohol, tobacco, nicorette, dairy, chocolate, caffeine, animal protein…YIKES!!!!!

So it started today with a 24 hour green lemonade fast.

Here is the recipe.

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 6 peeled lemons
  • 6 scoops of green superfood
  • 5 drops of stevia



He will spend the whole day drinking this gallon of lemonade with no other food. Pure detox.  Then he will begin a week of vegetables and fruits and I will update you on the foods we make and supplements we take to help him with this cleanse. This will be a difficult challenge for him but if he can manage to complete it, I am certain that he will be grateful he did it at the end.

Wish him luck!!!!!!!