Faking the goop Detox

E! Illustration

I have never dieted. 

In no way do I mean that as a brag; rather, it means that I've never had the will power or stick-to-itiveness to contort my food intake in a way that reflects a coherent set of guidelines ("rules" is such a forbidding word in this case), even though—like almost everybody else I know—I'm forever "working on" my body. Even if I'm not actually doing anything that qualifies as "working."

Basically, if I'm out, I want to indulge, 'cause I'm out. If I'm at a party or someone's house, I eat what's being served. I have to be asleep to pass up dessert. It's a good thing I enjoy things like salads and fruit and oatmeal, because at least I know I consume nutrients at some point.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I don't drink soda or eat fast food, and I've always been a light-weight drinker, so most of the recommended quick fixes the Internet encourages you to make didn't apply to me. Yet I was always waiting "until after my brunch this weekend" or "after that cocktail party this week" to implement any other suggestions.

Long story short, there was never a good time to switch it up.

But after I saw 10 tiny candy wrappers on my coffee table one night, remnants of a handful of bite-size Snickers and Twix left over from Halloween, it really hit me: That's at least a whole candy bar. And how many whole candy bars have you eaten under the guise of popping a few minis? And these aren't even any good! They're just...


Goop Detox GIFs

That's what had become my issue: I was eating stuff because it was there, not because I felt like eating it, let alone was hungry. A stale bagel at 2 p.m. from the leftover basket on bagel day at work. Whatever treats were being doled out on people's birthdays. The whole sandwich even though I was good after half. A handful of mediocre candy for a chocolate fix that I didn't really need.

But how to really stop? The last time I gave anything up for more than five hours was the month before senior prom when I didn't eat any bread.

I was ready to do something, though. I wasn't entirely off the rails but, good grief, how much sugar and other crap was I actually eating regularly?

Enter, on a Thursday, the goop newsletter heralding the 2017 Annual goop Detox.

Faking the goop Detox

Now, I've never been a Gwyneth Paltrow skeptic, much less a hater, not really minding that most of her lifestyle recommendations are inaccessible to most people, myself included. I didn't take it personally.


Gwyneth Paltrow, It's All Good Cookbook

Nor, however, was I a devoted adherent to her picture-perfect ways. I'd been a goop subscriber for a couple years, with most of the newsletters waiting in a folder in my Inbox to "really read when I had time." I did have a signed copy of her It's All Good cookbook—a very welcome gift from a GP acolyte—but I hadn't actually made anything from it yet, aside from salad dressing and smoothies. 

And only, like, one smoothie, because who has cacao powder or goji berries in the house?!

But just as when you hear a song or watch a movie at exactly the right moment and it hits you a certain way—so I was alerted to the detox (which, despite the snark with which some factions have apparently received it every year, and the fact that I've probably written thousands of words about other facets of Gwyneth's life, I didn't know existed).

Gwyneth Paltrow

Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

My first step: click on the link and see what this means. I was greeted with a peppy little intro to why detoxing is a good idea—how can ridding your body of poison not sound appealing?—and the list of things you cut out for five days, a list apparently derived from the Clean Program formulated by Dr. Alejandro Junger of New York:

Caffeine, alcohol, gluten, added sugar, processed oils and butters, vegetable oils (including canola), nightshades, corn, shellfish, red meat, soy and dairy.

OK, step two: Google "nightshades." Long story short, no white potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant or chili peppers.

I would soon learn that soy is the real lurker among the bunch, the ingredient that once you start reading labels is in everything, even a simple can of tuna. As in, "ingredients: tuna, water, soy."

But what immediately stood out was, of course, caffeine.

Goop Detox GIFs

I'm usually an at-least-two-cups-a-day girl, starting with a nice mug in the morning brewed at home, with half and half. As we all know, coffee's more than a beverage. It's a ritual. It's a warm blanket. Plus, doesn't quitting caffeine cause physical pain? I had dabbled in consuming less, the result being the overwhelming urge to crawl under the desk and go to sleep at around 3:30 p.m., like clockwork. 

But I was going to do this. So onto the meal plan.

Sunday: Prep a bunch of stuff for the week. Hmm. Sounded labor intensive. Let's look at Monday, the proposed day one (and I agreed that Monday-Friday would be best for me, because at least I'd have work to consume my thoughts in case the servings sizes weren't enough to satisfy a small child):

Faking the goop Detox

E! Illustration

"Warm lemon water upon waking," then "Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal & GP's Warming Latte."

Oatmeal, no problem. I could carve out an extra 15 to 20 minutes in the morning before work to make oatmeal not in the microwave. As for the latte...in addition to water, it had 13 ingredients, including three separate powders that, should you purchase them from goop, cost between $20 and $55.

Yeah, no. Intriguing, but that would be most irresponsible of me, to spend $135 on supplements for lattes, even if I did drink five of them in a week.

This is obviously why people make fun of the goop detox.

But I was not deterred. Rather, I would just have to widen my scope. Gwyneth herself (or whoever is her advocate in this case) encourages the intermingling of recipes from past detoxes if so desired. Enter: the Internet at large.

2016's breakfast beverage of choice—Surya Spa Detox Tea (crushed cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in water)—sounded rather stern (plus I'd have to acquire all those seeds), and a previous detox didn't even include a hot beverage aside from the water. A "latte" search on the goop site turned up a Ginger + Turmeric Latte from the Great Skin—Inside and Out plan, but still...peel and chop fresh turmeric and ginger every morning?

I had deduced that turmeric was the key here—and I had the powder at the ready, having had grand designs for it at sometime in the past—so a quick search for "simple turmeric latte" turned up this winner, from Wellness Mama.

The rest of the meal planning would resemble this process—accept or reject the initial option, browse other goop recipes and ultimately find a new appreciation for the onslaught of healthy living newsletters I already subscribed to.

A few disclaimers before I continue:

I like self-imposed structure, so making lists was right up my alley. I don't have any allergies and I like almost everything, so it wasn't the potential taste of any dish that turned me off. Rather, I was going by time investment required, convenience and cost—and rest assured, I still spent more time than I ever had in my life over the course of five work days preparing food, and I didn't come close to preparing three meals a day plus two snacks.

I also enjoy cooking, although nothing gets "whipped up" in my kitchen. If I were on Chopped, after the first 20 minutes I would have the ginger peeled and the garlic minced. "Hmm, it's hard to judge this dish because there's nothing on my plate."

Also, as you might have guessed, that "20 minutes in the morning" to make breakfast and prep lunch, plus "20 minutes to make dinner," do not include cleaning up afterward.

So here's what happened:


What I did decide to do in the days beforehand, knowing the detox was coming, was cut it down to one cup of coffee per day and then go cold turkey the weekend prior, so that Monday wouldn't be miserable. I also went shopping, with designs on making the Clean Granola from what I think was the 2015 detox, and a few other recipes. Among the things I needed: more almond milk, fresh ginger, cilantro, mint, carrots and celery, a litany of nuts and seeds, puffed millet and quinoa flakes.

Here's where your schedule and price point come into play: Whole Foods is a one-stop shop for everything. You can find all the produce, their bulk nut and seed bins (the ones I was always too sheepish to try before for fear of spilling nuts everywhere) prevent you from having to buy a $10 bag of pumpkin seeds when you only need two tablespoons, and the quinoa flakes and puffed millet are in the cereal section. Goop mentions health food stores carrying the QF and the PM, but WF has it all.

Faking the goop Detox


A regular big supermarket (Kroger-owned Ralph's is closest to me) will have just about everything too, except for those quinoa flakes and puffed millet—which, like every specialty item mentioned in the detox is available online, including the moon dusts in GP's Morning "Smoothie" from 2016 (which are $30 a jar from Moon Juice, so I stoically went without).

But still, money.

Ultimately I would recommend that if you have access to a Trader Joe's, get everything there that you can, and decamp to Whole Foods for the specialty stuff—or, if you've got a few days, Thrive Market has better deals on the flakes and Amazon's got your puffed millet on the cheap. It didn't even occur to me to shop online till down the road, though, when, after coming across another decaf morning elixir I wanted to try, I bought myself a bag of red reishi mushroom powder for $14.99 with Amazon Prime. 

Also Sunday night, I energetically made hummus and braised lentils (from goop detox 2015), all drunk was I with Trader Joe's-fueled power.


Time management was going to be key. My morning routine for the week became: wake up, hit the switch on the electric kettle, walk my dog, have the hot water with lemon upon my return. The first morning I drank my turmeric latte out of a nice cup, coffee-style, and savored it at home along with some of the Clean Granola, blueberries and almond milk.

Faking the goop Detox


I packed hummus and carrots, a couple of rice cakes and a small Pyrex full of the braised lentils, now having enough braised lentils to last forever.

My biggest fear starting off the week was that I would be starving at 10:30 a.m., and starving again at 2 or 3 p.m.; perhaps it was the excitement of trying something new—like the first day of school—that kept me sane. The most difficult part was ignoring that inevitable moment in the day when I'd go to the deli or our office kitchen for a coffee...I passed that time, post-lunch, with Tadin Herb & Tea Co.-brand dandelion root detox tea (about $4 for a box of teabags at the market).

For dinner that night, I prepared goop 2015's (a really banner year for recipes) Red Lentil Soup, which is a bit of a misnomer because the finished product is quite yellow. Having curry powder and cumin, it has that familiar curry-esque taste, but the addition of lime juice at the end really does add a certain zing. There was also plenty of soup left over to freeze.

Faking the goop Detox


Happily, my biggest concern didn't come to pass: the idea of mini Snickers didn't really appeal to me that night. Instead, I had chamomile tea and a cup of blueberries (having produce spoil on me was another of my big concerns for the week) and called it a night. 


Same hot water with lemon routine, but I decided what I missed was having a hot cup of something with me while sitting in traffic/getting started at my desk in the morning. So...while drinking my water, I made the 2017 Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal with the last of the Quaker oats I had on hand. You're supposed to use gluten-free oats and oats are theoretically gluten-free, you just get no assurances that they haven't been cuddling with wheat unless you buy specifically g-f. Then, I made my turmeric latte right before I left the house, meaning I had something in my to-go cup to sip—which made a difference, psychologically.

What do you know, more lentils for lunch, along with hummus and carrots, and tuna salad from the 2017 Detox Niçoise Salad recipe. (I have also confirmed there is no such thing as a 6 oz. can of tuna. The 5 oz. can will do just fine.)

For dinner, I once again deferred to 2015 and the Cauliflower Black Bean Bowl With Kale Guacamole. Or broccoli bowl in my case, because on the particular day I went, Trader Joe's had riced broccoli instead of cauliflower. I've since made both, and they both work. But on that night, I plucked four cilantro stems out of that damn bushel you're forced to buy at the market, crushed my garlic (chefs may scoff at it, but my garlic press has been going strong since college) and simmered the beans. I dumped out all the liquid from the can, but you should leave a little in to keep the beans from drying out.

The real star, of course, was the guacamole. You really barely notice the kale (I used the Tuscan kale in a bag from TJ's) and all you need to do is leave it out and you've got your new go-to guac recipe, so long as you like yours heavy on avocado and light on frills. Also, leave the avocado pit in the leftovers—that keeps it slightly greener than if you don't.

Faking the goop Detox



I'm getting great at this lemon-water business. But you know, not every morning do I feel like having breakfast right away, so in addition to my latte and leftover broccoli-beans-and-guac, I made the Kore Carrot Cake Shake and stashed it in the fridge at work. (If it doesn't explicitly say "drink immediately," I figure it'll keep OK for a few hours.)

I had to hack the shake: I used Trader Joe's carrot juice, so not exactly "cold pressed" but natural enough. TJ's also has very inexpensive dates that keep for a long time, so they weren't the glamorous medjool variety, but they did the trick. My banana wasn't frozen and I actually didn't have any raw almonds on hand (all those nuts for the granola and nary an almond to be had), so I added a tablespoon of chunky almond butter. (Fast forward to later: pretty delicious.)

For dinner it was finally time to put the lentils where the recipe was, and I set about concocting the 2015 Seared Halibut With Lentils, Kale and Salsa Verde. Minus the halibut, because I hadn't seen any frozen halibut at TJ's (my preferred method of buying fish when I don't know when I'm going to cook it), so I substituted a frozen salmon patty that I already had. Which left a lot to be desired aesthetically, but it was elevated, flavor-wise, by the condiments and a squeeze of lemon.

Faking the goop Detox


I was also really trying to go hard on recipes with kale, cilantro, parsley and other perishables—the stuff I wanted to use up and not waste. (You know how you're totally going to plow through that bag of spinach, but after seemingly eating tons of spinach for days, there's still half a bag left and all of a sudden that expiration date is past and you're on the fence about whether it still looks/smells alright?)


I'm definitely not into eating the same thing for breakfast every day, so, I ventured out of the goop circle and, with my leftover uncooked cauliflower rice, I made Pop Sugar Fit's Cauliflower Porridge. I didn't have any pear (and still no almonds), but berries and a scatter of granola on top sufficed, and of course I used almond instead of soy milk.

Again, I've always been a fan of hot cereal, be it oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, hot Grape Nuts, whatever, so that did help on the breakfast portion of this journey.

Faking the goop Detox


For lunch, I put one of those frozen containers of red lentil soup to work—I'm happy to report it kept really well—along with a couple of rice cakes.

Meanwhile, not this year, but last year, Gwyneth recommended a visit to an infrared sauna if you could swing it—and, if you were so inclined, a colonic.

Goop Detox GIFs

Right. But on Thursday, after my workout, I used the gym's sauna. (LA Fitness membership, $25/month).

Profuse sweating. Done. I followed that up fancily with a Detoxifying Antioxidant Tissue Facial Mask with Green Caviar Extract (beauty 360, CVS, $3.99).

I'm never starving after the gym (not that that had stopped me before), and it was getting late, so I opted to cook for the next day—more soup. I had found a vegan broccoli soup recipe on Pop Sugar Fit that fit the bill (low maintenance and I already had the ingredients): I just used almond milk instead of rice milk, and yay, another opportunity to use up some scallions.

The soup was...fine. Definitely light, as promised, and it also froze well. I have a feeling that it would be pretty bomb with cream.

Also for meal prep (at this point I was used to being in my kitchen for the majority of the night—which, while not exactly aerobic, was presumably healthier than all the sitting I normally did during that time, so...score, right?), I set about making the Strawberry Rosemary Overnight Chia Oatmeal from goop's Quick, Three-Day Summer Detox. It was hardly summer outside, but...I had all this fresh rosemary leftover that I bought for the lentils, plus strawberries to use up.

Faking the goop Detox



Water and lemon, brought the oatmeal and latte to work. My finished product wasn't as thick as the oatmeal seen in the picture, but the mason jar ($1.49 at World Market) made it look pretty, as mason jars are notoriously wont to do.

I brought the broccoli soup for lunch, but I wanted to save my appetite (no problem there) for dinner.

Before I left for the day, I had popped a frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast (from Trader Joe's) into the fridge to thaw. It was time to return to the 2017 detox menu and tackle the Crunchy Veggie Salad With Poached Chicken & Garlicky Sunbutter Dressing.

The recipe called for bone-in, skin-on chicken, but boneless and skinless worked just fine (and I didn't have any star anise pods); I only had a mixed cabbage slaw and some bok choy from TJ's (crunch enough); and I had no idea what sunbutter was. After looking it up, I concluded almond butter would do just fine.

Faking the goop Detox


Good grief, goop's dressing game is on point—though I've since made it with sunbutter (it's just sunflower seed spread, you can get it at TJ's), and I actually prefer it with the almond butter.

But as I was sipping my chamomile tea toward the end of the night, I realized...

Wow, I was done. I had actually cut all of those things—caffeine, alcohol, soy, added sugar, gluten, etc.—out of my diet for five whole days. And to be perfectly honest...

I felt amazing.

Not like a new person physically or anything (though an interesting side effect was that my mouth felt extra clean—I'm a vigilant flosser always, but it's easy to forget about the subtle havoc sugar is wreaking), but I was just so damn proud of myself for sticking with it. And I had really enjoyed the process.

Cooking has always been therapeutic for me, enough so that whenever I would do it I always wondered why I didn't do it more—so even though I was trading down time for kitchen time both in the morning and at night, I was liking it. Not to mention, who couldn't use a little accidental therapy in this day and age?

"Mindfulness" is a loaded, overused word, but I couldn't help be more aware of what I was putting into my body afterward—and I was more inclined to do all the dishes each night before bed, perhaps wanting to match my surroundings to the food a bit more.

I also learned that, when cooking with cumin and curry powder, open your windows. I'm guessing Gwyneth's bedroom is nowhere near her kitchen. 

Alas, if you were looking for more evidence that the goop detox is b.s., I don't have it for you.

While the plan as written is not realistic if you have a job with set hours, let alone anything else to do, and don't have all the money in the world for $55 astragalus (I even balk at $12 protein powder at TJ's), the overall idea is hardly a bad one. For someone who had never stuck to a meal plan in the past and really did need to cut down on idle grazing during the day, I managed to stick to the elimination guidelines once I got going—I had needed that part spelled out.

So get ready for this one...

The five-day 2017 Annual goop Detox was only the beginning for me.

You can bet that the first thing I did Saturday morning was go to Starbucks.

Goop Detox GIFs

I had no desire to give up caffeine (or gluten, dairy, alcohol, soy or nightshades) permanently. And the sticky bun I had at brunch on Sunday may have been the most extraordinary thing I ever tasted.

But, when I devoured that bun, along with eggs, bacon, toast and butter, I didn't experience the tinge of regret I normally would feel when I capped off a week of unfiltered eating with...more unfiltered eating. Instead, I thought, no big deal. Back to some-of-the-routine tomorrow.

After that rather rewarding week, I've continued with mainly "clean" recipes, though with tomatoes, peppers, dairy, etc. I actually looked at the rest of Gwyneth's It's All Good and made banana date muffins and millet fig muffins (when I was at Whole Foods looking for puffed millet, I was drawn to the porridge recipe on the back of the raw millet bag), and an aromatic brown rice and lentil dish called kosheri that I could eat a vat of (no fancy lentils or cardamom pods really necessary).

I made more stuff from the website, including a honey-lime jalapeño dressing that makes the plainest of salads worthwhile.

I made sweet potato turmeric muffins and quinoa flake porridge with leftover figs from the muffins.

Faking the goop Detox


Yes, basically I was out of control.

But with no intervention forthcoming, and friends and family enjoying the sudden glut of baked goods, I've kept at it. With coffee, and with celebratory dinners, and with the rest of life intact, but cooking bug has taken over. 

And just this past weekend, I tackled what looked like a most absurd proposition when I first clicked into the 2017 detox: homemade bone broth, the stuff Hollywood It girls are apparently now literally made of.

Faking the goop Detox


I got the slow cooker going at around 10 p.m. and, when I woke up, I could smell all sorts of good stuff happening. Once again, I'm not winning Chopped anytime soon with the amount of time it took me to remove the meat (stored for later, of course) and strain the broth. Yet it was my first homemade chicken broth, and I was proud of it.

Not that I made the exact version from the detox, of course. I still didn't have any star anise pods on hand, or 20 black peppercorns for that matter. Instead, a 2013 MindBodyGreen recipe had the goods.

But thank you, goop, for the inspiration.

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