Testing the GOOP Winter Detox: The Recipes

Testing the GOOP Winter Detox: The Recipes
Time to get cooking.  Lots of roasted vegetables in store.
Time to get cooking. Lots of roasted vegetables in store.

With all the ingredients acquired, it was time to start the goop Winter Detox.

The night before starting the detox, you need to soak the chickpeas for the day one soup in water. I put them in a pot in the fridge and went to bed. My cold and chest congestion were slightly worse than usual this day. I had been getting better but suddenly felt like I was getting worse. Perhaps I had picked up another cold virus?

Day One

The detox plan has a daily schedule of when you are supposed to eat everything. The first thing you are supposed to do is drink a glass of “room temperature lemon water upon arising.” This is kind of like lemonade and was refreshing.

A glass of room temperature lemon water starts each day of the detox.
A glass of room temperature lemon water starts each day of the detox.

An hour after the lemon water, you drink a glass of herbal tea. I tried the Yogi Breathe Deep tea and it was amazingly delicious! This particular flavor has licorice in it and the licorice flavor was sweet enough that I didn’t miss the fact that I couldn’t add sugar to the tea.

The Yogi teas have inspirational sayings on the teabag strings and suggestions for yoga poses on the boxes.
The Yogi teas have inspirational sayings on the teabag strings and suggestions for yoga poses on the boxes.

Two hours after the tea, you can have your breakfast. Every day, breakfast is some sort of shake. My blender is my absolute favorite kitchen appliance so I thought this was great. Several years ago after burning out two blenders making Orange Julius, I bought a used Blendtec commercial blender. It was during the recent recession and there was an online vendor selling used Starbucks blenders for cheap. So, my blender is marked “Tall” and “Venti” and has weird buttons on it but it works like a dream. I love my blender.

The day one shake is called “Chai Gingerbread.” It has rooibos tea in it and a huge amount of spices. It smelled quite nice. It was very spicy going down and had almost a bitter taste from all of those spices. At first, I didn’t add any sweetener to it and I had to reblend it to add some. You need at least 1 teaspoon coconut nectar to make it palatable.

Chai Gingerbread Shake
Chai Gingerbread Shake

I wouldn’t say this drink is very delicious but I am going to keep this recipe around because it has a magical effect on chest congestion! Immediately after drinking it, I began to cough and my chest congestion loosened. This was exactly what I needed!

An hour and a half after the shake, you can have more tea or hot lemon water.

Two hours after this, you can have lunch, which is chickpea soup. I was doing the detox on a weekday and I had to drive my children to ballet lessons at this point so I got a bit off the schedule here. I ended up making both lunch and dinner together.

The chickpea soup is in an onion-laden broth. I thought it was delicious. So did my husband and so did my son! One online review criticized this recipe as being too low in calories per serving but you really have to make it and experience it for yourself. The dry chick peas plump up to quite a large size and each serving is really quite filling.

Chickpea Soup.
Chickpea Soup.

You are allowed a snack of walnut lentil pate this day but I just didn’t have time to make this. The lunch and dinner recipes were so time consuming that I just left this out.

The dinner recipe was “Quinoa Stuffed Kabocha” or in my case “Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash.” I love quinoa and I quite like squash so this dish was a hit with me and my son. It has a sauce called an anchoïade which is like a vinaigrette with onions and anchovies. I am not sure I have ever eaten anchovies before but they get mashed into the vinaigrette so you can’t see them anyway. It had a wonderful flavor. My husband is not a fan of quinoa and did not care for this dish.

Quinoa stuffed acorn squash.
Quinoa stuffed acorn squash.

By the end of day one, I was proud of myself for having made all (well almost all) of the recipes and sticking to the plan. I was so busy cooking and trying to remember when to drink tea that I didn’t really think about being hungry. Also, I had bought in to the healing aspect of the detox. I didn’t see the food so much as recipes but as medicine (cue eye roll from my husband here). I also knew that fasting is supposed to promote healing as well (maybe there is some truth to “starve a cold feed a fever”?) so having fewer calories was just part of the treatment plan to me.

Calorie count for Day 1 of the goop Winter Detox

Day Two

I awoke on day two feeling like my body was radiating garlic and onions. My son was very congested with a cold. My bad ear that suffered the ear infection felt more congested too and I was just a little sniffly. Over the morning, both of my ears were making popping noises and I can hear fluid in them but they didn’t hurt or cause any other problems.

Day two started with the same lemon water and herbal tea schedule.

Breakfast was the yummy sounding “peppermint hot chocolate.” I pulled out all the ingredients and laid them on the counter and marveled at how they were not the ingredients I would ever think of for making a glass of hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate, anyone?
Hot chocolate, anyone?

One of the ingredients in this recipe is “coconut cream.” The only coconut cream I could find comes in a box. The cream solidifies very easily. The bag it came in was hard as a rock! The instructions on the box said that if this happens you need to soak it in a bowl of warm water until it softens. So, I did. (Note: See below in the calorie count information. The coconut cream in a box is very high calorie. The recipe says you need the kind that comes in a can. The canned coconut cream has far less calories than what I used.)

I started putting all the ingredients into the blender. It felt less like cooking and more like making a potion. I imagined myself as one of Cheryl Potter’s knitting witches.

Potion making . . . adding the spirulina powder.
Potion making . . . adding the spirulina powder.
The many layers of this recipe before blending.
The many layers of this recipe before blending.

I pressed blend and poured the concoction into a glass. Unlike the picture on the goop website, my “hot chocolate” was green! Perhaps they added the optional chocolate protein powder or Photoshopped it to make it brown but my version was definitely green.

The Peppermint Hot Chocolate shake.
The Peppermint Hot Chocolate shake.

I thought this drink was quite delicious but it tastes nothing like hot chocolate to me. I couldn’t even taste the cocoa powder in it. To me, it tasted more like what you would get if you melted the coconut center of an Almond Joy bar and mixed it with peanut butter (well, almond butter). But, the almond coconut flavor was delicious, even craveable.

We went on with our day. While I was holding my daughter on the couch, she suddenly turned to me and said,

“Mom, you smell different. You don’t smell like your old skin.”

My daughter has an amazingly keen sense of smell and is very quick to notice scents.

“Different good or different bad?” I asked

“Different bad!” she said and began to fake cough.

Apparently the garlic and onions of day one were a bit much. I liked the idea of “burning” up my cold virus (even though I know that is not technically how it works) so I didn’t care but just be aware of this fact if you are going to try the detox at work or while you are around someone you are trying to impress.

Again, I got off the official detox schedule and had so much cooking to do that lunch and dinner ended up being served together.

“Lunch” was a roasted carrot soup. You can tell that this recipe was developed by an experienced, genius chef. The ingredients are so simple but the flavor is so complex and beautiful. My only difficulty with this recipe was the blending of the soup. I wanted to blend it with a hand blender in the pot but the carrots were too stiff to cope (the recipe says not to cook the carrots until they are completely soft). So, I ended up pouring the soup in batches into my blender. It took forever but the end product was the perfect consistency with flakes of carrot mixed in with the creamy soup. My husband loved this soup and so did I.

Roasted + Clean Carrot Soup
Roasted + Clean Carrot Soup

Dinner was “Pan Steamed Chicken and Broccoli.” This is the most normal recipe of the whole cleanse and if you are going to try just one recipe, this is the one to try. My pickiest eater said, “Mmmm….it smells so good!” and she even ate a piece!

A high compliment for this dish!  My daughter hams it up for the camera as she takes a bite.
A high compliment for this dish! My daughter hams it up for the camera as she takes a bite.

This is just like a sesame chicken and broccoli that you would order from a Chinese restaurant. Everyone loved it! The only complaint I had was that my version was too salty. Even though I used the low-sodium tamari sauce it was just too much. I would use half as much next time.

Yum!  Pan Steamed Chicken and Broccoli
Yum! Pan Steamed Chicken and Broccoli

I had been so busy in the afternoon that I didn’t have time to make my hot lemon water and eat my snack. I was getting a bit hungry at this point so I had them as a late night snack instead while we watched the latest episode of Downton Abbey. The snack for the day was a handful of seeds or nuts. I toasted the seeds from my acorn squash the night before so this was an economical snack.

Roasted Acorn Squash seeds - my snack.
Roasted Acorn Squash seeds – my snack.

Calorie count for the goop Winter Detox - day 2

Day Three

I awoke on day three only a tiny bit congested. I could take a huge deep breath and I feel only a tiny “catch” in my lungs as opposed to triggering a coughing fit. My ears still had fluid in them but were less poppy. Otherwise, I seem completely normal. It was rainy and cold.

Again, the lemon water and tea regimen began the day.

I had some errands to run with the children at this point and got off the schedule again. Due to timing, I couldn’t have the breakfast meal until after lunchtime and was starving by the time I made it.

“Breakfast” today was a “savory shake.” The only people I know who use the word “savory” have British affiliations. I am not sure it is a word Americans commonly use. If you don’t know what savory means, it basically means “not sweet” and generally involves more salty flavors. I am not a huge fan of savory foods but when I looked at the ingredients for this recipe (miso, avocado, chicken broth, coconut milk) I realized that it was sort of like a miso soup. I like miso soup so I tried to have a positive impression going in.

This is another green shake. I don’t mind green but some people find it off-putting.

The curiously green Savory Shake
The curiously green Savory Shake

I made a version of this shake (served in a bowl with a spoon as a soup) later on for my husband and he said bluntly:

“This looks like vomit.”

But he agreed that it is delicious. It has a wonderful creamy, sour flavor.

Again, the cooking responsibilities meant that lunch and dinner were served together.

“Lunch” was “balsamic miso root salad.” Basically you roast some vegetables in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper and serve them over lettuce with a savory miso-based dressing. The vegetables we roasted included parsnips and golden beets (both of which we don’t recall ever eating before). The roasting process gives them just a hint of sweetness. This was really a delicious, wonderful salad. The dressing is a keeper and I have made it again since. I enjoyed this dish very much.

Balsamic Miso Root Salad
Balsamic Miso Root Salad

Dinner was coconut poached salmon. I had high hopes for this recipe. We love salmon and we like Thai-inspired flavors like coconut milk and lemongrass. I might have been a bit tired of cooking by this point and might not have made this as well as I could but I felt a little disappointed with the end result. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t great. The lemongrass was very tough and chewy. I am not sure what flavor it imparted but I don’t recall this recipe being very flavorful.

OK but not great.  Coconut Poached salmon.
OK but not great. Coconut Poached salmon.

I was so busy cooking that I didn’t have time again to make the lentil pate that was the snack for today so I just let it go. I was pretty hungry by this point but took comfort in the fact that it was the last day of the detox! I had done it! 3 days of intense cooking and clean eating.

Calorie Count for the goop Winter Detox - Day 3

Evaluating the Winter Detox

Healing Effects?

Before I started the detox, I decided that I was going to judge it based on whether it cured my cold. How did it score on this point? After the three days, my lungs were almost completely clear. A few days after that I was breathing completely normally. My ears also drained about 90% of their fluid within one week of finishing the detox. Was the detox responsible or was it the natural course of healing? It’s hard to say but if I ever get a bad cold like that again, I will be pulling this regimen out to do again.

I was researching bronchitis and learned from this doctor’s website that bronchitis isn’t a separate illness but rather a complication of having a cold. People who get bronchitis tend to be run-down in some way (like, say people who road trip across the country during the holidays). The best healing process for bronchitis is sleep, mild exercise and good nutrition. Interestingly, all the people I know who have had bronchitis this winter were women with childcare responsibilities and came down with it during the holidays when the stress level on women goes sky high.

Weight Loss?

Most people when they see these detox diets think of weight loss first. I honestly wasn’t concerned with this at all but I knew people would be curious so I weighed myself after the detox was over and found I had lost about 3 pounds. It was a nice side effect but not the reason I was doing this.

The detox taught me a couple of useful tricks to curb your appetite. The suggestions by Dr. Junger to dress warmly and to have regular intake of hot lemon water and tea were amazingly helpful in curbing winter eating. Also, having food with complex flavors seems to curb appetite as well. The brain is so entertained with the flavors that it seems to forget about calories.

Bottom Line

Going through the detox was an eye-opening experience. There might be something to this. If nothing else, it gave me the opportunity to learn new healthy cooking skills and flavors. It took a lot of time to shop for the ingredients and make the recipes the first time but most of the recipes weren’t really all that difficult. After you have made them a few times, they would go very quickly. It just took some time the first time to read the recipe carefully and get used to the cooking methods used.

You can tell that someone spent an incredible amount of time devising this detox program. It can be a challenge to cook like this and the recipes were quite clever. Someone has also spent a lot of time making sure that the supplements and ingredients all support holistic and macrobiotic diet principles. What a gift to get thousands of dollars worth of health-promoting advice for free! I would like to thank whoever was involved with this and also Gwyneth Paltrow for putting her name on it, publicizing it and taking all the heat from people who mock her for it.

I would be open to doing a detox again. Dr. Alejandro Junger was a consultant for this detox diet and I have to say Dr. Junger has a new fan. You can follow him on Facebook here or on Twitter here.

Suggestions for Real People

If anyone from goop happens to read this, I do have a few suggestions about how to make the detox plans more friendly for “ordinary” people in the future. It would be great if there is anything you can do to reduce the amount of cooking time each day. A crockpot dinner recipe where you just dump a few things in and turn it on would be wonderful. Alternatively, perhaps you could make adaptable recipes where, for example, you make a soup for lunch, then add a few things to the same leftover soup to make a hearty stew for dinner. For anyone who has to work a full-time job, having make-ahead recipes would be wonderful. Chances are most people would want to detox during the week so that their weekends are free for socializing. If you could cook all this stuff up on a Saturday or Sunday, package it for the week and just take out the right meals each day that would be wonderful. Many of the recipes in the current detox you could adapt this way but the shakes are a bit tricky. In the ideal world, there would also be a local restaurant the time-starved could pay $170 to and pick up a daily bag of detox food, all perfectly made.

What is your reaction to the goop Winter Detox? Would you try it? Do you have any suggestions about how to adapt this plan for “ordinary” people? Please share in the comments.

In my next post, answering a reader question about my fasting salads.

*I have no affiliation with goop, Dr. Junger or any other product or service mentioned in this post.