Detox? …Try this broccoli, spinach and ginger soup

(photo by Michael Ciaglo/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Detox. What does this make you think of? Recently I feel like I’ve been seeing this word and idea everywhere.

As you might know, I work at the University of Oregon’s newspaper The Oregon Daily Emerald as an entertainment reporter. I wrote this food article in January (forgot about posting it until now–school has been unbelievably busy lately), and wanted to share it and the recipe on my blog, too. Inspired by Gluten-Free Goddess. Here’s the link, otherwise, just read what I wrote below:

From the Oregon Daily Emerald, “Cleanse your body with this soup detox”:

We’ve all heard about “cleanse” diets: fasting, exclusively consuming cayenne pepper and water drinks, acai berry extract or other strange food mixes. Cleanse and detoxification diets claim to remove toxins that have built up in the liver and colon.

Yes, this fad exists. And yes, people practice it. Just Google “detox diet” or “master cleanse” and view the plethora of “natural” choices that pop up, all claiming to help flush your body of ill humours and melt the pounds away. Celebrities like Beyonce, Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow have touted the power of cleanses, and characters on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and “Up All Night” have tried them (usually as tongue-in-cheek, but their presence speaks to overall popularity).

The alternative medical approach to cleansing the body and losing weight has roots in ancient Egyptian medicine, and the modern diet fad has been gaining ground since 2005. The general feeling in the medical community is that most detox diets are hoaxes.

“These kinds of diets are not a reasonable approach to weight loss, and there is no data that they do what they claim,” said Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, to USA Today in March 2009.

January is a time when gym memberships swell, New Year’s resolutions are made and those annoying weight loss ads pop up on your computer. Most people indulge in desserts and alcohol (carbs and sugar) during the holidays, so it’s a no-brainer that detox is on everyone’s lips.

But some do detox simple. Take Bon Appetit, which created a two-week Food Lover’s Cleanse. No fasting, questionable supplements or strange juice drinks necessary. Instead, the magazine offers a healthy cooking challenge to start off the new year, cutting out refined sugars and carb-heavy meals and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of water, healthy fats and limited animal products.

“The idea with this plan is to find the pleasure in eating healthy,” wrote Sara Dickerman, a Bon Appetit contributor who is blogging about her experience cooking through the two-week cleanse. “Very broadly the plan focuses on healthier options for eating while emphasizing vibrant seasonal flavors.”

Cleanses like this are something to get behind: Limit the sugar and alcohol, and up the veggies — a smart choice any day. Start with something simple, like this green broccoli, spinach and ginger soup.

Ingredients (serves four to five):

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons diced onion
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cups fresh broccoli, cut up
2 packed cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 large parsnip, peeled, cored, chopped
2 ribs of celery, trimmed, chopped
A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Fresh water, as needed
Milk or milk substitute, if desired
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste


1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Cook a few minutes until the onion is soft.

2. Add the broccoli, spinach, parsnip, celery and parsley. Stir until the spinach wilts. Though it looks like a lot of vegetables, they will reduce as they cook.

3. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables. You can always thin the soup later if needed. Bring to a high simmer. Cover the pot and reduce heat to a medium simmer. Cook 15 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.

4. Let cool a few minutes, then transfer in batches to a blender. Blend, adding water or milk if desired, then transfer to another large soup pot. Keep going in batches until all the vegetables are pureed.

5. Taste it. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add lemon juice to brighten. Add water to thin or milk to make it creamier.

6. Serve garnished with parsley or with a spoonful of cooked rice in the center.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Article, Main dish, Soup


Became a voracious, unapologetic bookworm in 4th grade after reading the first three Harry Potter books. Have a thing for dystopias, young adult novels, classic literature and funny memoirs (re: Mindy Kaling / Tina Fey). English and journalism geek, media and pop culture critic, food writer and blogger, editor of an entertainment magazine. Hobbies include: my Netflix account, cooking, gardening, music, art and hiking.


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