Cleansing Foods for Health, Strength, and Happiness

Today, you’d have to be living under a log to not know that a whole food diet acts as medicine to heal, strengthen, and give longevity to our bodies. The word is finally getting out that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other whole foods benefit several organs, alkalize the blood pH, regulate moods, and basically thwart the top ten degenerative diseases of modern people.

A few years ago, I was further amazed (and relieved) when, in my studies of macrobiotics, I learned about specific foods which bind and expel from our bodies both heavy metals and radioactive substances. What? Wow! Really? Yes! At the end of this article, I’ve included two lists that can protect us from toxins and help remove them from our bodies. The first list identifies foods known to boost immunity, which helps the body deal with these toxic elements. The second list highlights specific foods which cleanse these toxins out the body. In reading through these lists, you might discover that you’ve already been eating or cooking with many of these foods as part of your well-rounded, whole food diet. We’ve also included a couple of recipes that can assist your body in cleansing toxins, courtesy of CookWell, my business where we provide personal guidance in whole food nutrition and cooking. The fresh zing of the salad dressing comes together super fast, while the black-eyed pea stew develops layers of flavor and nutrition over a longer cooking process.

Define: Whole Food

Before we get into the lists, let’s first clarify the concept of “whole food.” Many people ask me, “What exactly constitutes a whole food diet? Does that mean you’re a vegan who only eats raw foods?” Here’s my elevator speech: “No, I’m not a raw vegan,” I say. “I eat whole food.” With that phrase, most people immediately think of a Whole Foods grocery store. Well, whether it’s a natural foods grocery store or a mainstream one, I then explain how I eat hardly anything in packages from the middle aisles. Instead, I eat whole, organic foods found on the perimeter of the store, or at Farmers Markets, or at a neighbor’s road-side vegetable stand.

I eat foods in the state that Mother Earth has given them to us: unrefined & unprocessed. For example, I eat sprouted and simmered whole grains like brown rice, millet, and quinoa as well as various types of whole beans, raw nuts & seeds of all kinds, consciously raised eggs, organic butter and grass-fed meats, tons of seasonal vegetables and fruits, unrefined fats/oils, healthy vinegars, whole sea salts, and unrefined sweeteners. My family eats the way our ancestors ate and the way indigenous people all over the world eat today.

Twice a week, I make a pot of brown rice or whole oat groats as a base for breakfasts and desserts. I set aside a couple of hours on Sunday to make a big, beautiful pot of black beans or adzuki beans (reheating beans is so quick and easy in a saucepan and I like to dice tomato and avocado for a tasty garnish). And, I shop Farmers Markets twice a week for all the lovely fresh produce for my salads and stir fries. This is the way indigenous people all over the world eat and we can all see the results: strong, limber bodies of people healthy and happy well into their nineties.

Foods known to help the body deal with heavy metals & radiation:

  • Foods rich in vitamin A: sweet potato, fish liver oil, butter, dark green vegetables, beef liver, yellow & orange veggies, egg yolk, dandelion greens/root, berries, apricots, spirulina, chlorella, blue green algae, chilies
  • Foods rich in vitamin D: fish liver oil, butter, eggs, liver, milk, saltwater fish
  • Foods rich in vitamin E: wheat germ, wheat germ oil, leafy green vegetables, avocado, nuts, legumes, virgin olive & sesame oils, sweet potato, whole grains, asparagus
  • Foods rich in vitamin P (bioflavanoids): citrus pulp, bilberry & blueberry
  • Foods high in minerals: dark leafy greens and beets

Foods to bind & chelate heavy metals and radiation out of the body:

  • kelp, kombu, arame, hijiki, & wakame seaweeds
  • chlorella
  • cilantro
  • miso (specifically, good quality stuff from South River Miso or Miso Master brands)
  • garlic
  • Eleuthero ginseng
  • raw greens & sprouts
  • Reishi and Shiitake mushrooms
  • burdock root
  • raw beets
  • celery root
  • milk thistle, dandelion or artichoke leaf
  • herbs specific for your body type: Schisandra berry, turmeric, aloe vera, and triphala


CookWell Recipes for a Delicious Whole Food Diet

Blackberry Balsamic & Citrus Vinaigrette 

Salads taste marvelous with Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar from Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars

Enjoy this amazingly flavorful salad dressing for your heavy metal-removing salad with dandelion greens, raw beets & sprouts. Serendipitous and simple: my dear friends Cari & Craig gave me a bottle of their award-winning Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar. YUM! Then, my friend Kellie gave me a bottle of Pacifica Culinaria Avocado Oil, Blood Orange flavor. Then, a few days later, when some friends asked me to bring a salad to their dinner party, I used these gifts to whip up the most flavorful dressing I’ve ever made…and it was SO simple!

  • Use equal parts vinegar, oil, and fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice.
  • Very finely mince about 4 Tbsp. fresh herbs from the garden. I used dill and marjoram that evening, but herbs like parsley, tarragon, and basil (fresh or dried) would work nicely, too.
  • Put everything into a glass jar and shake it up to your favorite Charleston swing step…voila!

Black-eyed Pea Stew with Seasonal Greens, Shitake Mushroom & Arame Sea Vegetable 

Make this great one-pot meal on the weekend to store & reheat for your busy week. Detoxify on the fly. A nice salad on the side makes this a perfect meal. Enjoy!

  • 4 cups dry black-eyed peas
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. cayenne
  • 2 Tbsp each ground ginger
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped Shitake mushrooms
  • a large handful dried arame sea vegetable
  • 4-5 cups chopped seasonal greens such as kale, collards, Savoy cabbage, bok choy or mustard greens
  • 1 Tbsp. dried dill
  • 1 Tbsp. sage
  • ½ tsp. marjoram
  • 5 Tbsp. of a healthy fat such as ghee, butter, virgin coconut oil or high-quality virgin olive oil
  • 3 – 5 Tbsp. Ohsawa or Eden brand Shoyu or Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic or ume plum vinegar
  • lemon juice, to taste
  1.  Soak black-eyed peas for 24 hours under 6 inches filtered water in a large pot (4 – 6 qt.).
  2. The next day, rinse off the old soak water and replace with fresh filtered water (enough so the beans are covered by at least 3 inches of water). Bring to a boil, skimming excess foam off the top for the first few minutes. Reduce to a low simmer with the lid on at an angle (so steam can escape) for 45 minutes.
  3. Remove lid and stir in cumin, coriander, cayenne, and ginger. Stir and simmer another 5 minutes. Add carrots, mushrooms, and dried arame sea vegetable. Incidentally, kombu, wakame, hijiki, arame & kelp all contain alginic acid, which helps to bind & remove both heavy metals AND radioactive substances from the body: a two-fer!
  4. Simmer 3 more minutes, then add chopped seasonal greens (as much as will fit in the pot) such as kale, collards, Savoy cabbage, bok choy or mustard greens—the darker green, the better! Turn off heat and stir in dill, sage, and marjoram. Add healthy fat  and soy sauce, balsamic or ume plum vinegar, and lemon juice (taste as you go, adding more of any of these if desired).
  5. Stir in some brown rice or any pre-cooked grain at the end if there’s room in the pot.

Central Coast Co-ops and Natural Foods Stores 

Isla Vista Food Cooperative, Isla Vista

Lazy Acres Market, Santa Barbara

Natural Foods Co-op,  San Luis Obispo :: CCFodie Sponsor

Sunshine Health Foods, Morro Bay


Courtney Coleman of CookWell has studied and practiced macrobiotics, solar nutrition and Ayurvedic cooking for the past 12 years. In 2006, she started teaching people in their own kitchens to CookWell and transition to a whole food diet and lifestyle to prevent disease and bring the mind, body and spirit into balance. She teaches all over San Luis Obispo County how a whole food diet and lifestyle can prevent and reverse disease, increase energy, and bring the mind, body and spirit back to balance. 

Contact: 805/547-9073 or 

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