I'LL TRY ANYTHING ONCE: Cheap D.I.Y. At-Home Juice Cleanse Edition

I decided to try my hand at a less expensive version of the ever-alluring juice cleanse. Find out how I did, perhaps judge me, and check out some recipes, too!

Mar 20, 2012 at 11:00am | Leave a comment

I love food, I really do. I tend to eat healthily but there are times when pizza at 1 a.m., sopped with grease and dripping with cheese, seems like a good idea. And there's nothing wrong with it, because it's delicious and it makes me happy.

But my recent poor eating habits have resulted in me feeling sluggish, with low energy and a wonky sleep schedule to boot. With Spring coming on, I kind of wanted to reboot my system and kickstart healthier habits, not only with food but with exercise and just the way I treated myself, in general. After reading about Cat's experience with the Ritual Cleanse, and other peoples' experiences with juice fasts and raw diets, I figured it could be for me. A lot of people cited a boost of energy and a clearer mind.

The only problem with a lot of these fasts, cleanses, whatever you want to call them, is that they're expensive. This is something that a lot of you lamented in Cat's post. Seeing as I own a juicer and a blender, I did some research and figured I could recreate the bottled juices these companies sell on my own, in the comfort of my own kitchen. This post is a diary of my experience.

The Day Before The Cleanse (Wednesday)

I headed to the grocery store armed with a list. I'd been doing some research on cleanses like the Ritual Cleanse, as well as the Blueprint Cleanse, and Toronto's Total Cleanse. I decided to replicate the recipes used in these cleanses while throwing in some of my own.

I bought tons, and tons of produce at my local grocery store (all for about $25) and lugged it home with my boyfriend's help. My plan was to do six juices a day, with three green juices broken up by a a fruity juice (pineapple-apple-cucumber for the first two days, carrot-apple-beet for the last two), a lemonade, and a Chai-esque cashew milk.

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Getting started in the kitchen, I decided to make the the first day's green juices. I grabbed a handful of kale, spinach, a bunch of kiwis, and green apples and tossed them into my Jack Lalanne power juicer (more plainly-explained recipes can be found at the bottom of this post with instructions). After all this was juiced, I tossed it into the blender with two bananas and puréed.

The result was a frothy, tangy, and delicious juice. I was kind of surprised since I was expecting it to taste like grass. I funneled the mix into 3 emptied plastic bottles and refrigerated them so they'd be ready for me to grab on Thursday when I started the actual cleanse. Then I made the pineapple-apple-cucumber juice (also delicious) and bottled it away.

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Around midnight I realized I had a giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that I forgot to eat and immediately wolfed it down with a glass of milk, knowing if I left it 'til the end of my cleanse it would go stale. I didn't want it to go to waste! 

Day One (Thursday)

I barely got any sleep the night before so I was feeling exhausted and woke up craving scrambled eggs and home fries, not juice. But I trudged along and brought my giant bottle of green juice on the bus to school, with my pineapple-apple juice packed away to have on the ride home.

Mid-morning, when I usually start to feel woozy and need a snack to boost my blood sugar, I felt totally fine. I wasn't in dire need of stuffing my face. Sure, I had cravings, but I have cravings every waking minute so ... that was nothing new.

Around 3 I had to head to the bulk food store to pick up cashews for my last juice of the day, banana-cashew milk. Still, I weirdly wasn't hungry. I grabbed my third juice for the day, another greens juice, and made the trek downtown.

By the time I got home I was still feeling pretty great, and set out to do some more juicing. I set the cashews aside in a bowl of water to soak and made the cayenne-honey-lemonade (my "dinner"), along with more green juice for the following day.

I drank the lemonade down around 7:30 and realized it was my least favourite of the juices but still not horrendous, then decided I felt so fine I was just going to skip my last green juice of the day and go straight for the cashew milk, which was delicious. Then I slept like a baby.

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Day Two (Friday)

My mom had the day off of work so she came into town to visit me and go shopping. I woke up feeling great, full of energy and actually looking forward to having juice for breakfast. (Which isn't that weird, the juice tastes good!) I packed the pineapple-apple juice and a lemonade with me to bring shopping and headed out.

When my mom got lunch I picked up some gingery-veggie juice take-out to replace what would have been my lunch-greens juice. Later in the day I had the lemonade and an herbal iced tea, but then I started to feel a bit horrendous. I was hungry (craving Mexican food, as always), starting to get irritable and my legs hurt from walking all day.

I made it home around 8:30, chugged another greens juice and made my cashew milk, which I drank around bed-time before passing out.

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Day Three (Saturday)

I slept in until almost 2 pm and my body took a beating for it. I was starving. When I walked into the kitchen I felt dizzy and my vision got funny. This always happens when my blood sugar dips, so I drank some leftover cashew milk from the night before, followed immediately by my morning greens juice, and took some liquid iron supplement with it too, hoping it would sort me out.

I was so tempted to eat some apple sauce but managed to hang onto my willpower and decided instead to lounge about in bed for a bit, sipping juice and trying to feel normal again.

After about 30 minutes I was feeling pretty good again and as I was getting ready and doing my make-up, I noticed my skin seemed to have a strange glowiness about it. Maybe it was the MyFaceWorks mask I'd used the night before, or perhaps it was the green sludge I'd been chugging for the last 3 days. Either way, I was pleased.

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Again, I was finding it hard to stick to the schedule of six juices a day or any kind of order, and ended up just grabbing whatever was made, whenever I started to feel hungry. I'd say I probably drank four of my actual juices a day, with a lot of herbal tea thrown in in-between. Either way, for the most part I was satisfied. 

Day Four (Sunday)

When my alarm went off, I was ready to go. My mind was clear and already making plans about the day, full of ideas and fully-formed thoughts. This was not normal. I usually wake up horribly groggy, confused, even angry. Perhaps it had something to do with eating heavy, unhealthy meals after 10 p.m., a dietary no-no?

All I know is, I was actually ready to get out of bed.

Now, I was invited to a birthday party that night and I decided that, after 90 hours of this juice cleanse, I'd delve back into the world of food. Since a lot of cleanses last 3 or 5 days, I figured a nearly-4-day cleanse was as good of a go as any.

The only thing was, I didn't really care about eating or not. The day before I'd been excited to eat again, but today I was feeling indifferent. I was perfectly happy sipping my juice and didn't have any weird cravings.

I finished my last juice, then  headed to my boyfriend's house armed with some coconut water to make up some homemade salsa for the party (it was a taco party, Mexican food is my favourite you guys, I keep talking about it, don't I?). But even when the salsa was finished, I wasn't even mildly tempted to take a bite. I started to think that maybe I'd conquered food, in a weird way.

When I got to the party, I felt almost scared about trying food again, like I'd been peer-pressured into some sort of dangerous thing, like eating was now taboo.

At 6 p.m., 90 hours had passed since I had eaten and I decided to dip my toe back into the waters of food again. I ate a baby carrot.

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Eventually I eased into eating again and over the course of about 5 hours, I had some guacamole, a few vegetarian tacos on corn tortillas, some s'mores (there was a campfire!) and a slice of pie that I split with my boyfriend. Yes, the food was delicious, but I knew there was still room in my diet for juice.

In Conclusion ...

Monday, the day after my cleanse, I woke up kind of craving juice.  Instead, for breakfast I made a spinach, green pepper, and onion omelet and some rye toast (and drank a glass of Pom Wonderful Pomegranate-Blueberry juice, so good!).

Later in the day I went to meet my sister for tea. She hadn't seen me since I started the cleanse and said my skin looked better (I wasn't wearing any make-up). We went to a raw vegan place for lunch and had raw zucchini pasta, with nut "meatballs," and a raw cacao brownie for dessert. I still felt great. I went for a long walk in the park afterward and still felt satisifed and energetic.

Did the cleanse make me lose weight? I don't know, I don't own a scale. Does that disappoint you? If I did lose weight, it was probably water weight, water weight that might end up coming back this week even though I plan on eating healthy and getting exercise.

Honestly, I didn't do the cleanse to lose weight. I did it because I felt like crap. I was treating my body like crap, I was eating garbage, and I was completely out of shape, physically and in the way that I approached food. 

The benefits were what I expected them to be. Better skin, more energy, a clearer head and a control over my cravings (which, wait a minute, I didn't expect). I truly thought my willpower would give out on me, and it didn't. I'm proud of myself for being able to last so long, and even prouder now that I'm not craving pizza or McDonald's everytime I pass a place that sells that stuff.

I also had more restful sleep during the cleanse, and I'm learning now to cut myself off after 10 p.m. No more snacking, no more heavy, greasy foods. Eat dinner at DINNERTIME. These are little steps that I am going to take, not because I want to drop 10 pounds, but because I want to feel like a human being in the mornings instead of a grouchy old witch.

Would I recommend an at-home cleanse to you, xoJane's lovely readers? Well, if you want the benefits I described rather than a quick weight-loss solution, then yes, absolutely. Maybe just introduce juices into your regular meal plan as snacks, instead. Not including the cost of my juicer and blender (which I already had), I spent $45 on all of my produce and dry goods for this cleanse (plus some more on the iced herbal teas I occasionally bought), which isn't too bad compared to the bottled, shipped-to-your-door stuff.

I'm not knocking that stuff, obviously it has the convenience factor on its side. But if you have the time and the energy, definitely try it yourself. I feel much better for doing this.

The Juice Recipes

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Greens Juice (drank 3 times daily)
For 1 bottle:
- 1 large handful of kale
- 1 large handful of spinach
- 1 average sized kiwi, peeled
- 1-2 Granny Smith apples, whole
- 1 ***banana 

In a juicer, juice the kale, spinach, kiwi and apple(s). Add the mixture to a blender with the banana and purée.

***The banana needs to go in the blender because it's too mushy for a juicer and would just kind of get jammed in there.

Drink the mixture straight from a glass or funnel it into a bottle and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Pineapple-Apple-Cucumber Juice (drank once daily for first 2 days)
For 1 bottle:
- 1 half of a pineapple, with the skin and leaves removed
- 2 red apples, whatever type you like
- 1 half of one large cucumber

Juice all the ingredients and drink straight from a glass or yadda yadda, I'm not gonna repeat myself for every recipe. Just don't leave it in the fridge forever because it will go bad and taste GROSS.

Beet-Apple-Carrot Juice (drank once daily for final 2 days)
For 1 bottle:
- 1 washed and peeled mid-sized beet (beets have a kind of dirty taste when juiced with the outer layer on, so remove it if you're not into that)
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 2 red apples, whatever type you like

Juice all ingredients. I love the bright red colour the beets give and the taste, when combined with everything else, kinda reminds me of pomegranate juice? Beets are also high in iron so if you are anemic or have an iron deficiency, try this juice every once in a while for your health (as Dr. Steve Brule would say).

Sweet & Spicy Lemonade
For 1 bottle:
- juice of one large lemon
- a teaspoonful of honey (or agave nectar)
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- rest of bottle filled with filtered water

Fill the bottom of your empty bottle with a bit of hot water, and add the honey and cayenne pepper. Swirl it around until the honey dissolves, then add the lemon juice and fill the rest of the bottle with cold filtered water. Shake and drink, or refrigerate until needed.

Banana-Cashew Milk (drank once daily an hour or so before bedtime)
For 1 bottle:
- 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of water
- a pinch each of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg

After the cashews have soaked, throw all the ingredients into a blender and purée for a minute. I love this recipe, mostly because I never realized how effing easy it is to make my own cashew milk. Definitely going to make it all the time now.

I tweet, too: @hannahejo