After several months spent hauling ass in the kitchen to produce a regular rotation of edible desserts for my gluten-free colleague, Laura, she began to complain that all the sugar I was forcing her to consume was affecting her anxiety and mood.
At first, I was incredulous; I mean, how did she know for a fact that sugar was causing her to feel like crap? Had she ever taken a close look at the other elements of her diet? What were the statistics on the long-term health effects of vegan maca protein shakes, for instance?
In short, I have never been able to relate less to someone, than to her in those moments. Defiant, I continued to stock my office candy dish with a steady stream of dollar-store chocolates and toffees, but any attempt to offer her one would be met with an abrupt “No thanks, I don’t eat poison.”
Given that she was a social worker as well, I figured that she was trying to pull some kind of motivational voodoo on me, but I wasn’t having it. After all, sugar had no effect on me. I mean, yeah, I had gained a few pounds over the past couple of years, but that was because I was stuck in a tiny town with nothing to do except recreate homemade versions of chinese food, right? Also, my blood work profile was pristine, except for the fact that I’d had high triglycerides off and on since I was a teenager – but that was purely genetic, you guys. Sugar was my everlasting love; it got me through every day of my life. It was the only thing I could count on. It would never betray me (other than the whole leading to an inevitable death thing, but you gotta die somehow, right?). I wasn’t about to abandon it.
Then, in true form of an addict, when the inevitable day arose that Laura suggested I join her in a 21 day “cleanse” under the guidance of a naturopath, I was like
Because I, for one, wasn’t addicted to sugar.
“So…how often do you eat sugar?” she prodded, knowingly.
“Well, technically, probably like everyday… I like sauces…” I replied, softly.
“Oh ok, but like…candy? Cake? Chocolate? At least once every couple of days, right?”
“If by days, you mean hours… then, yes.”
“Are you serious? You eat chocolate every day?”
I silently motioned toward my vagina-shaped pink candy dish filled with Lindt truffles, and hung my head in shame.
And thus began my detox journey. I begrudgingly coughed up $75 for a cookbook and a couple of meetings with a naturopath and a group of fellow sugar & carb addicts (who all had MUCH bigger problems than me, I figured).
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a proponent of fad dieting, cutting out whole food groups, liquid “cleanses”, diet shakes, herbal weight loss fixes, and other such nonsense, and in fact, that I think DETOX actually stands for “Dumb Enough To O-something X-something”. And yet here I was, sardined into a crowded naturopath’s office with a group of other 30/40-something women, hoping to squash soup our way out of a future cancer diagnosis (or at least into a smaller dress size).
The detox plan was simple: no wheat, no corn, no eggs, no beef, no pork, no shellfish, no soy, no oats, no tomatoes, no potatoes, no oranges, no bananas, no melons, no peanuts, no butter, no margarine, no canola oil, no alcohol, no caffeine, no sugar, no dairy, no Coffee Mate, no mini Kit-Kats, no sweet & sour sauce, no flavor, no fun, no happiness. No future. No life.
My daily diet routine was obliterated by the time I reached the fourth item on the list. Literally all I could have were organic veggies, chicken, fish, and beans? No. Naw. Nay. Non. Nien. Nope. This was too much (aka too little), even for someone who works at the hipster capital of the world.
The month stretched out before me like a flavorless hellscape of bland kale salads and dry free range organic chicken breast.
But I soldiered on. Primarily because Laura is super bossy for a little person.
And what I discovered was that it wasn’t that hard. I actually started to enjoy most of the foods I was preparing. I’d always been into most vegetables and lean meats (I didn’t get alllllll this – *points at body* – from an all Pop-Tart diet, you guys), but I realized that I’d been concealing their true flavors with heavy, sugary sauces (jk, I still stand by sauces). People around me started to ask if I’d lost weight (I did actually end up losing 20 lbs that summer, but I believe that had less to do with the detox, and more to do with the fact that I wisely got myself tangled up in a short-lived relationship with a little darling I like to call Three Weeks Into A Marital Separation Guy, which, when it derailed, took my appetite with it for a while. (Spoiler alert: they got back together. #whaddyaknow)). Life began to take on more meaning. I enjoyed my job more. I had more energy. I fell in love. Money seemed to be everywhere. World hunger inexplicably came to an end.
Just kidding. I kind of felt the same as always?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, sugar and I reconciled before the 21 day mark, and we haven’t broken up again since (hey, it’s true what they say about love: when you know, you know). But in the meantime, I did discover some recipes that were so good that they have taken up permanent residence in my dinner rotation. This broccoli is one of them.
The first time Laura made it, she texted me “Omg! It’s like chips!”
Which, let’s be real, is a bit of a stretch.
But it’s definitely way more amazing than any other broccoli ever.
And yeah, if you’re on a diet of air and lettuce leaves, it’s a huge treat.
I actually got so into it that one night (months after the detox, even!) I ate two whole heads of broccoli for dinner.
Like, just broccoli. But approximately 10 cups of it.
One girl, two heads of broccoli.
Let that sink in for a moment.
And then go make some for yourself.
- 1 head of broccoli
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 450-500 degrees.
- Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Add the remaining ingredients to the broccoli, and toss well to coat.
- Place broccoli on a cookie sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, flipping once to prevent burning). Broccoli will be very golden and crisp!