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The Daily Detox

The military family I grew up in moved so often that, at one point, we didn’t even unpack our dishes. Takeout and fast food were our go-to meals — and they became a way of eating that eventually caught up with me. Once I hit college, I gained weight and felt terrible all the time.

Then I got a job in a restaurant working with people who ate real food. What a revelation! Hoping to feel better, I began a raw-food detox diet . . . and took it a little too far. Like many people, I went to extremes with detoxing, which was unsustainable and even harmful, in part because I refused to make lasting lifestyle changes.

Eventually, I realized I do better with small changes that support my body’s natural-detox organs, including the skin, liver, and kidneys. When I consistently eat nourishing foods, I give my body a chance to do its job rather than work against it. To that end, I learned it’s much better to focus on optimal digestion that relies on whole foods and smart food combinations than to obsess about elimination and deprivation (see “Food Combining 101,” below recipes).

The simple and nourishing recipes that follow will keep your body’s natural detoxification system working efficiently — without the need for a dramatic dietary shift.

Skillet Breakfast Hash

Shredded cabbage is a great substitute for potato hash browns. It becomes tender like potatoes but is much lower in fast-digesting carbohydrates, plus it’s loaded with essential vitamins and minerals for a more nutrient-dense meal. Not only is this dish properly combined to help streamline your digestion, but it also delivers vital nutrients like vitamins B6, C, and K.

a bowl of skillet breakfast hash by the Detoxinista

Yields  2 to 4 servings | Prep time 10 minutes | Cook time 30 minutes


  • 1 tbs. butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 eggs
  • 2 oz. raw goat cheddar, shredded (optional)
  • Freshly chopped chives, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large, deep, ovensafe skillet, melt the butter over medium heat on the stove and sauté the onion and bell pepper until they start to soften, about five minutes. Add the cabbage, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, and cook another 10 minutes, until everything is tender.
  3. Crack the eggs directly on top of the cooked vegetables in the skillet. Sprinkle with the cheese, and bake in the oven until the whites are cooked, five to 10 minutes. If you prefer runny yolks, check on the eggs starting at five minutes; for firmer yolks, let the eggs cook for the entire 10 minutes.
  4. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh chives and serve warm.

Tip: Goat’s-milk cheese is a hypoallergenic alternative to cow’s milk: Its protein structure is ­significantly different.

Tip: Shredded cabbage is bulky when it’s fresh, but will wilt as it cooks.

Zucchini-Pasta Primavera

Zucchini is surprisingly satisfying as a detox-friendly pasta alternative, and when it’s tossed with other flavorful spring vegetables, herbs, and a touch of cheese, you won’t miss the traditional pasta.

a bowl of zucchini pasta primavera by the Detoxinista

Yields 2 to 4 servings | Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time 30 minutes


  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tbs. coconut oil or butter
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 lb. asparagus, tough stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Pinch of red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 tbs. grated pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Using a spiralizer, turn the zucchini into spaghetti-like noodles. Or use a vegetable peeler to create long, thin zucchini ribbons. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. In a large pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and carrot for five minutes. Add the bell pepper and asparagus, and sauté until all the veggies are tender, about eight minutes more. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about one minute.
  3. Add the zucchini noodles, tomatoes, salt, basil, oregano, and red-pepper flakes, and sauté until the zucchini is tender, five to eight minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
  5. Serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Tip: When asparagus isn’t in season, use chopped broccoli instead.

Tip: Enjoy your favorite high-quality meat in this dish. Just add it while cooking the peppers and asparagus.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Made with an assortment of fresh herbs, olive oil, and crunchy chopped vegetables, this easy, detox-friendly salad is bursting with flavor. Although quinoa is technically a seed, its grain-like quality places it in the starch category for food-combining purposes; the same goes for other grain-like seeds, such as amaranth, millet, and buckwheat.

a bowl of Mediterranean quinoa salad by the Detoxinista

Yields 6 servings | Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time  20 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time


  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup minced green onions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, julienned
  • 10 to 15 olives (such as Castelvetrano), pitted and chopped


  1. In a saucepan, combine the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat, cooking until the quinoa has absorbed all the water, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Add the cooked quinoa and toss it in the dressing to coat well. Add the green and red onions, dill, parsley, cucumber, bell pepper, and olives, and toss well to combine. Allow the mixture to chill in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.
  3. Serve cold or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Tip: Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It’s also a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin B2, and manganese — all of which support healthy brain function.

Easy Party Mix

If you crave that popular party mix made with rice cereal, you are going to love this grain-free alternative. Loaded with B vitamins, this tastes surprisingly similar to the less-healthy version and is incredibly easy to prepare using any nuts or seeds you have on hand.

a pan of easy party mix by the Detoxinista

Yields 2 cups | Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time 35 minutes


  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1 cup hulled sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet in a flat, single layer without too many clumps.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes, tossing the mixture a couple of times throughout. Cool completely (the nuts will be crunchy once cool).
  4. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Tip: Cooking raw nuts at a low temperature prevents browning, which can form acrylamide, a probable human carcinogen.

Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots

This quick side dish is a good source of antioxidants that help support your detox organs. It appeals even to picky family members and is an easy way to get them eating more vegetables

a plate of colorful cinnamon glazed carrots by the Detoxinista

Yields 4 servings | Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time 10 minutes


  1. 1 tsp. coconut oil
  2. 1 lb. baby carrots, sliced carrot coins, or halved large carrots
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 1 to 2 tbs. maple syrup
  5. 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  6. Pinch of fine sea salt

Tip: Use a good-quality maple syrup, which delivers minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.


  • In a Dutch oven, melt the coconut oil over medium heat and sauté the carrots for two minutes.
  • Add the water, which should start bubbling right away, and lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook the carrots for about 10 minutes, until fork-tender. Check the pot periodically to make sure the water doesn’t completely evaporate so the carrots don’t burn.
  • Once the carrots are tender, raise the heat to cook off any excess water, then stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Adjust the seasonings.
  • Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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Food Combining 101

I develop most of my recipes with optimum digestion in mind, using a practice called food combining, in which you keep certain food groups separate. For example, at a given meal, you would choose food from one of the following categories: a starch, an animal protein, fresh fruit, or nuts, seeds, or dried fruit. You would combine this with a “neutral” leafy green and a raw or cooked nonstarchy vegetable to complete your meal.

It may seem complicated or overwhelming at first, but most of the recipes here (and in my books) follow these principles. I also created a cheat sheet (below) that lists lots of options for each of the food categories.

But don’t let the details of food combining become an excuse to put off healthful eating for another day. If you ask me, eating a “mis-combined” dish of high-quality whole foods is a big step in the right direction. It’s far more important that you truly enjoy the experience of every meal you eat, so that you create an overall positive association with healthy eating.

The simple and nourishing recipes that follow will keep your body’s natural detoxification system working efficiently — without the need for a dramatic dietary shift.


Food Combining Cheat Sheet

Eating strategically can make digestion easier. Try these combinations and see how you feel.

Taking care to eat or avoid eating certain foods together in the same meal is called food combining, and it’s a way of helping your digestion run more smoothly. By minimizing the variety of foods on your plate, you also lower your risk of overeating, which can tax your digestion and make everyday detoxing more challenging. This is the approach I use for food combining for optimal digestion. At each meal, choose to eat from one of the four categories:


Animal Protein

Fresh Fruit

Nuts/Seeds/Dried Fruit


  • Acorn squash
  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Buckwheat
  • Butternut squash
  • Cooked corn
  • Coconut meat (young Thai)
  • Kabocha squash
  • Lentils
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White potatoes
  • Yams



  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple


  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut (mature, dried)
  • Dried fruit
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hemp seeds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts


Any of these categories may be combined with “neutral” leafy greens and raw or cooked nonstarchy vegetables to complete your meal. As an easy reference, most vegetables that you can enjoy raw, such as broccoli, carrots, lettuce, zucchini, and more, can be considered neutral. A small condiment also won’t have a huge impact on your digestion, so feel free to add a pat of butter to your baked potato or a splash of almond milk to your porridge.

Wait three to four hours before switching categories, but feel free to snack on neutral vegetables any time of the day.


  • Bananas usually digest well with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
  • Avocados can digest well with fresh fruit, dried fruit, or starches.
  • Spaghetti squash is hydrating enough to be considered neutral.
  • Peanuts and soy nuts are not recommended due to their potential exposure to pesticides and mold.

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This article originally appeared as “Healthy Combinations” in the April 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Reprinted with permission from No Excuses Detox, copyright © 2017 by Megan Gilmore, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright © 2017 by Erin Scott.

Photography by: Erin Scott
Megan Gilmore

Megan Gilmore is a certified nutrition consultant and the creator of the healthy-living blog Detoxinista. Her most recent cook­book, No Excuses Detox, focuses on quick-to-prepare, affordable, whole-food recipes. Follow her @detoxinista.

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