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Detox Meal Menus

by Benna Crawford

Alarming reports of all the toxins in the environment can make a healthy lifestyle seem like a constant battle for parents. There are a number of steps you can take to surround your kids with cleaner air, chemical-free water and wholesome food. Adapting healthy elements of a detox diet is one strategy to maximize nutrition and encourage good digestion

What’s on the Menu

Detox diets claim to help cleanse the body with the use of specific foods prepared in particular ways. Many of the elements of detox diets are healthy choices for everyone at every meal. Organic foods that contain no pesticides or fungicides are good for your family, and so are whole grains that still have all the nutrients and fiber. Steel-cut oatmeal – not instant – with fresh berries on top is a cleansing, nutritious breakfast. Oatmeal is loaded with soluble fiber, minerals and vitamins. Berries contain essential vitamins and important antioxidants that help the body to neutralize and eliminate free radicals that cause disease. Detox diets emphasize a lot of vegetables and fruits, as well as seeds, nuts and legumes. Add fun-to-eat, high-protein edamame in pop-open pods to a dinner with crunchy sprouts and shredded carrots, brown rice and lean grilled chicken breast with the skin removed.

Healthy Cleansing Foods

The USDA recommends daily dietary choices from five food groups for adequate nutrition for children. Select from the USDA's "My Pyramid" to balance good nutrition with cleansing foods. Beans and brown rice for protein can replace meat or poultry in a meal, and fresh sliced mango or papaya, crispy sugar snap peas and baby spinach are an appealing, healthy salad. Replace dairy with fortified soy or almond milk. Serve whole grain breads baked with yummy sunflower seeds and use hummus instead of butter as a spread. Your youngest gourmands will develop a broad palate that encourages them to devour heart-healthy, low-fat, high-energy, “clean” foods.

Raw Foods

Raw foodists believe that menus built on uncooked veggies, fruits, grains, beans and juices will help the body rid itself of toxins, increase energy, clear skin and control weight. Add the best ideas from raw food menus to your family’s lunch and dinner menus. Raw foods make the blood alkaline, a good way to lower the risks for serious degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Put dark green kale on the menu; it’s one of the highest alkalizing foods. More good choices are avocado, collard greens, parsley, cilantro, basil and watermelon. Cooking some foods can enhance their value, so you may choose a blend of cooked and raw for optimum nutrition and kid-friendly meals. Tomatoes, for example, are higher in antioxidant, cholesterol-lowering lycopene when cooked, so spaghetti sauce on whole grain pasta is a tasty detox meal.

Fads: Dietary Failures

Plan menus around good nutrition, not fad diets. The American Dietetic Association says that many detox diets promote extreme weight loss and are rigid, incomplete ways to eat. Forget the morning “lemonade diet” lemon water with cayenne, but do make a green smoothie with bananas, kiwi, strawberries and baby spinach leaves for a quick breakfast loaded with vitamins and cleansing fiber. Vary healthy food choices rather than default to a mono-diet. Grapefruit is great on the breakfast or lunch menu – just not every day. Serve fresh-squeezed orange juice, high-vitamin-C kiwi slices in salad, or lime squeezes over avocado. Healthy, balanced meals and low-stress mealtimes are the best recipe for family detox.

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