Spring Clean Your Body With Real Foods

I love warming winter foods, but by the time spring rolls around I have had about as much beef stew as I can take. My body is telling me it is ready for a change of pace, ready to cleanse.

The words detox and cleanse are thrown around in infomercials and magazines and just about everyone is selling the product that will work wonders. But who wants to spend extra money on some products that may or may not work?

Besides, I am all about healing with real foods. You really needn’t look much further than the farmer’s market and your own kitchen to do a little spring cleansing of your own.

Give Your Body a Break

Photo by winemegup

Our bodies store up as much as they can in the winter, trying to keep us warm. By spring our liver, gallbladder, and digestive tract are ready to let go of all that they have held on to, including toxins. The best thing you can do is give them a break.

Cut Out Taxing Foods

  • Sugar. Even unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup and honey are best avoided for a short period of time. Miss soda? Try making water kefir or kombucha instead.
  • Caffeine. Notoriously hard on the adrenal glands, giving us a false sense of energy when our bodies need rest. Try some green tea instead, which is helpful in cleansing.
  • Dairy. A common allergen, specifically in the homogenized and pasteurized form. Try cutting out all dairy for a while and then reintroduce it in it’s less allergenic forms: cultured, full fat, and raw. Easy substitutes are coconut milk and ghee (clarified butter).
  • Gluten. Wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and non-GF oats all contain this problematic protein.
  • Grains, Beans, Nuts, and Seeds. These are fairly heavy and difficult to digest due to anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors.
  • Animal Flesh. Good meat is actually really nutrient dense, but even us avid omnivores can feel the need to cut back on the heavy meats. Try pastured eggs instead. And when you do eat meat avoid the hormones, antibiotics and unnatural fats of conventional products by opting for grass-fed alternatives.

Feed Your Body Only What It Needs

Photo by jenmaiser
You may look at the above list and wonder “what can I eat?” First off, realize that this is only for a short period of time: 4-10 days.

Try the following easy-to-digest foods:

  • Probiotic Foods. Our gut health is crucial to our overall health. Add lacto-fermented vegetables to salads. For added insurance consider taking a good quality probiotic.
  • Spring Greens. Dandelion leaves and roots, nettles, spinach. These all contain cleansing properties and can even be foraged from your own backyard. Eat them cooked and in abundance.
  • Spring Vegetables. Think asparagus, peas, radishes, spring onions, chives, garlic scapes, and lettuce.
  • Homemade Bone Broths. This is one of the most nourishing foods for your body. Rich with minerals like calcium, homemade bone broths provide healing for your digestive tract, and there is no store-bought substitute. I keep it simple by making it in the slow cooker. Use this as the base for lots of blended vegetable soups.
  • Coconut Milk/Oil. Use in smoothies, soups, and beverages for added energy, necessary fats, and delicious flavor.
  • Wild Seafood. One of the most nutrient dense foods available, add just a little bit to your cleansing greens.
  • Low-Sugar Fruits. Berries, grapefruits, lemons, and green apples all fall under this category.

After the first four days, assess how you feel. If your body is telling you that you need more fat or protein, then add them in. Leave the taxing foods out of your system and you could be eating clean all year!

Cleansing Recipes

If you’re detoxing then you may not have a ton of energy to cook. No problem! Soups and salads are easy and light. Just be sure to add some fat and a little protein to whatever it is you’re eating.

For a treat try a dairy-free, sugar-free smoothie.

Photo by floridecires

Coconut Milk-Raspberry Smoothie

Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks, Snacks
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Servings: 1 smoothie
Calories: 1106kcal
Author: Shannon


  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen organic raspberries or other berries
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks from pastured chickens, optional
  • 12-15 drops liquid stevia or to taste.


  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


I would eat this any time of the year, it is that delicious. The egg yolks are optional, but add tons of nutrients. Just make sure you know where your eggs come from.


Calories: 1106kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 107g | Saturated Fat: 89g | Cholesterol: 391mg | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 1305mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 51.6mg | Calcium: 173mg | Iron: 17.1mg


Other Cleansing Recipes

Are you feeling ready to spring clean from the inside out?

About Shannon

Real food, sustainability, and homesteading are inextricably intertwined on the off-grid homestead Shannon, her husband and three children inhabit. She shares the insanely beautiful and shatteringly hard of it all on her blog Nourishing Days. She also works as a content writer and blog editor for Cultures for Health.

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  1. The smoothie recipe sounds fantastic and definitely not something I would think of making on my own. I love the use of coconut milk, and am intrigued by the addition of the egg yolk. Great post!
    .-= Jan (Family Bites)’s last blog: Open-Faced Curried Chicken Sandwich =-.

  2. oh, my goodness! coconut milk/raspberry – what a combination! I can’t wait to try that smoothie 🙂

    I agree – after a long winter I find myself craving lighter food, more salads, more fruit. Asparagus, radishes, and fresh peas are some of my favorite foods, too.

    My family is still in the “baby steps” phase of our Real Food journey, but I can already tell the difference just over the past few months in how my body feels. Caffeine is a hard one for me but I have cut way back in my consumption.

    Thank you for the link for slow cooker chicken stock, too. Bone broths have been intimidating to me and something I haven’t really attempted.

    Fantastic post!
    .-= Kara’s last blog: Music Review: Dan Zanes Concert DVD and a Surprising New Find =-.

    • Kara – I hear you on giving up caffeine. I am just getting over my own coffee habit and have found that cutting back first is a huge help. I also just love the flavor of coffee so I found a good organic, fair-trade, water processed decaf from Trader Joe’s. It is actually really delicious, especially iced with stevia and cream.

      And the chicken stock couldn’t be easier – roast your chicken, cut the meat off, throw the carcass into the crock pot, cover with water, add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and turn it on low for 12-24 hours, or until you’re ready to strain it.
      .-= Shannon’s last blog: Spring Clean Your Body With Real Food =-.

  3. Thanks– I think one of the benefits of eating “real” for the last 6 weeks is that my body is starting to tell me how to eat. I was just looking through my larder and thinking, beeh ugh, potatoe ugh, noodles ugh– and then looking out all all the lovely overwintered turnip greens and spinach and listening to all my cells surge into the hallelujah chorus! Asparagus with radish pesto tonight!
    .-= Xan’s last blog: The apple tree =-.

  4. Do you think it’s safe to detox in this way when you are breastfeeding?

    • Christy – When we are pregnant and nursing we detox into our babies or breastmilk. Nursing mamas need lots of nourishment and calories, so I would change my focus less to detoxing and more to an overall clean diet. Nutrient dense foods like coconut milk/oil, wild seafood, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, grass-fed butter, liver from pastured animals, and tons of veggies and fruit are just what mamas need.

      Good fats are your friend, especially when nursing and pregnant 🙂
      .-= Shannon’s last blog: Spring Clean Your Body With Real Food =-.

  5. Oh, and my daughter has some digestion issues we are currently working through with her doctor, but do you think kids can detox too?

  6. Lisa @ WellGrounded Life says

    Fantastic article! I especially love that you mentioned when you have given your body the gift of a cleanse, you begin to “hear” what it is telling you more clearly…then you can begin to add in foods that it needs —

    When our diets are full of taxing chemicals, we lose the ability to hear our body’s messages!

  7. awesome. going to make that smoothie for sure.
    .-= denise’s last blog: the dinner hours =-.

  8. Thanks for the crockpot tip, that sure makes things easier. I started freezing my onion and celery scraps too and probably have enough for two batches now. I wonder if it would work for beef bone stock too? I hate leaving the burner on all night… Definitely going to try out the smoothie recipe, my girls love smoothies. Do you think I might be able to hide some cod liver oil in there? Even the flavored stuff tastes pretty fishy to me. I bought the GAPS book for information – lots of food sensitivities that cause behavioral changes in my eldest daughter. I just don’t think I have it in me to try it yet. I’ve been trying to do lots of real nourishing foods for now. How long did you have to stay on it to see results?

    • Kelly – I think GAPS is great. We tried it for a short period of time and saw results in all of us. It is really hard at first, but I do believe it is worth it. I think you should try it for at least a couple of months to see results. Depending on how severe the gut problems it could take even a year or two. By that time, though, it is easy. I mostly eat GAPS friendly all the time (the maintenance part).
      .-= Shannon’s last blog: Spring Clean Your Body With Real Food =-.

  9. Though I instinctively dislike the word “detox,” this doesn’t seem so bad. I feel very much the same at this time of year – my appetite is less than in winter, and often for lighter fare. The loads of carbs and proteins that felt comfortable in winter now make me heavy, almost sick, while fresh produce and light breads make my heart sing. I could live on a good sourdough, fruit and some good smoked provolone in the springtime. (However, it does drive my husband crazy that I basically “stop eating” when the weather warms up – he fusses at me all the time now.) Another reason I’ve been thinking of doing a detox is a new workout routine. My life in the past year has been pretty crazy, and I’ve declined a sad lot since this time in 2009. However, I wonder about doing something like this with a fairly intense routine. Any thoughts?

    Last question: what are you referring to by “lacto-fermented vegetables”? Are we talking something like kimchi, or am I off the mark?
    .-= Kate’s last blog: Biscuits, done one way. =-.

  10. Kate – Kimchi is definitely on the mark! Just make sure it is raw. Sauerkraut, fermented pickles, and salsa are all good as well. You can make them at home quite easily. The salsa may be the easiest to start with as it is a familiar flavor to most.

    I am a fan of every day exercise. By that I mean instead of getting crazy at the gym do every day activities like long walks, gardening, chasing your children around, etc. Just keep moving and maybe throw in a little resistance training.

    That aside, I think light exercise would be better during a true detox.
    .-= Shannon’s last blog: Spring Clean Your Body With Real Food =-.

  11. Great post, Shannon! Perfect follow-up to all the rich Easter meals. I know I have been detoxing all week without realizing it (smoothies and salads and vegetable soups mostly) just because my body felt so sluggish. I’m definitely adding coconut milk to my shopping list for next week!
    .-= Shaina’s last blog: Caring for Indoor Seedlings =-.

  12. Great post! I have a couple questions that I’ve had difficulty finding answers for and was wondering if you could address them on the website at some point:

    1) If raw milk is all but completely unavailable, what’s the next best option? I live in Michigan, and the sale of raw milk is all very undercover and more difficult than I feel like I can tackle right now.

    2) What exactly are lacto-fermented vegetables and how does that process work? I know next to nothing about this, but I keep hearing about it.

    .-= Meghan’s last blog: "Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness…" =-.

    • Meghan – Good questions. Here are my thoughts:

      1). I live in Michigan and am able to get raw milk through a local farm “herd share”. This is completely legal. Basically we buy into a share of the herd of cows and they board and milk them for a monthly fee. Then we get the milk from our share of the herd every week. Head to realmilk.org to find a farmer near you or contact me: http://www.nourishingdays.com/?page_id=679 and I’ll try to help you find one in your area.
      That being said, if you can find pasteurized, but unhomogenized milk (cream rises to the top) that is more easily digestible. So is goats milk as it has lower casein and lactose levels. I like to make yogurt out of storebought milk as it makes it more digestible.

      2). I wrote an article last year on the topic here: http://www.nourishingdays.com/?p=1883

      Let me know if you have anymore unanswered questions after that article just let me know!
      .-= Shannon’s last blog: Spring Clean Your Body With Real Food =-.

  13. oh, wow! Coconut milk and raspberries! With life-threatening allergies to dairy in our household, we became more used to ‘other’ milks and really like coconut…I think my kids will love this! thanks.

  14. I love your ideas for Spring Cleansing! I am the kind of person that buys a detox kit and then is afraid to use it! I still have one unopened that is over 2 years old. Now I am doubly afraid to use it because of its age. So, more and more I am looking to accomplish these sorts of goals with food. Thanks for this delightful list of suggestions!

    See the recent guest blog by Sylvia Onusic on Dandelion, one of the greens on your list. The Slovenes have a Spring rite involving dandelions, their traditional food that transitions them from Winter into Spring.
    .-= Kimberly Hartke’s last blog: Dandelion Has Nutritional and Healing Properties =-.

  15. I have never heard of lacto-fermented vegetables. Thank you for your article and the links you provided! I learned alot.

    If one does not have the time/energy/desire to make homemade lacto-fermented vegetables, are the store bought versions adequate to the task for the detox cleanse? I assume organic is important but is there something else I should look for on the labels?

  16. nancy mercier says

    Is there any sort of a dressing that can be used on spring greens as a salad? I intend to try this this week and would like to use something on the greens.

    • Nancy – Absolutely! I like a simple vinaigrette that I call my basic salad dressing:

      ■1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
      ■1 tablespoon dijon mustard or 1-2 farm fresh egg yolks (for emulsification)
      ■3 medium garlic cloves, minced
      ■plenty of sea salt and black pepper
      ■1 – 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

      1.In a canning jar or bowl combine vinegar, mustard or egg yolks, garlic, and seasonings. Mix well.
      2.While whisking, slowly drizzle in about a cup of the olive oil. Taste the dressing with a lettuce leaf and if it is too tangy for you continue to add olive oil.
      3.Transfer to a pourable container (or leave in a pint or quart jar) and refrigerate until needed. Shake before serving. Keeps for at least 1 1/2 weeks in the refrigerator.
      .-= Shannon’s last blog: Wild Edibles: Garlic Mustard and Recipe for Green Lentils with Wild Garlic Mustard Pesto =-.

  17. Today for lunch I had everything I needed to make this smoothie except that I had strawberries instead of raspberries. I whipped it up and oh yum! So delicious and satisfying. I need to find a place to start buying coconut milk in bulk! 🙂 Thanks, Shannon!

  18. Hi!
    I love your blog! I was wondering if you had a suggested brand of coconut milk??? I have seen some in Whole Foods that I thought had too many thickeners (geletin, guar and other gums, etc.) and I’m not sure they are a negative or not. Thanks!

  19. Wayne Kenneth Seymour III says

    I believe your advice is completely correct.
    I can’t believe you are so inline with my nutrition views.
    It is almost scary! lol

    Brief on me: I’ve been involved with health/strength/nutrition since I was 7 years old. Ex-US Army soldier, but still into this stuff.

  20. Hi!
    I think your post is mostly awesome. The smoothie recipes are amazing and the need to add probiotics into everyday diets is just essential to good health. The caffeine post is right (you can even add that it causes dehydration because caffeine is such an intense diuretic) but posting Green Tea as an alternative is a little misleading. Green Tea has a lot of caffeine in it, especially when you drink more than one cup.
    I am 100% behind you with posting Green Tea as an alternative to sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, etc. because it is so good for you, but it is not an alternative to caffeine, since it has naturally occurring caffeine.
    Great post and very practical for a simple and healthy detox!

  21. Do you have any concern about carreenegan (preservative)? I’ve read it’s been linked to some stomach cancer. It’s in MANY things, but especially dairy products & non-dairy alternatives such as milks: almond, rice, soy, & coconut. In fact, I haven’t found a coconut milk where I shop that does not have that ingredient.

  22. You ought to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality sites on the internet.
    I will highly recommend this site!

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