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Liver-loving recipes for health

Photos by TLMacdonald Photography

My husband and I recently came back to Canada feeling quite sluggish from our 3 week trip in Australia. Now we could have put this sluggish feeling down to jet lag or because we both went straight back to work the next day, but I have a feeling it had more to do with consuming more alcohol in 3 weeks than we did in all 0f 2011.

Truth is, we love Australian wine and we had plenty to celebrate which included celebratory drinks for Christmas, new years, birthdays, new homes, babies, engagements, weddings, long-time-no-see's and just simple because it was 5 o'clock some where and of course the fact that we hadn't seen family and friends for over 18 months.

Needless to say, when we arrived back in Vancouver our livers weren't in the best shape, and we decided we needed to treat them better. As a result, we se out to eliminate all of our favourite things, including alcohol, caffeine, dairy, meat, and sugar.

We didn't do the hardcore liver cleanse -- just focused on eating healthier foods that our liver preferred. My train of thought was that just because I was on a cleanse program didn't mean I should only have a limited number of meals and snacks to choose from - variety after all is the spice of life!

There are benefits with a liver cleanse but for me the important ones were as follows:

1. Weight control. Being underweight, I was worried that going on a liver cleanse would cause me to lose more weight. But while reading and researching, I learned that a liver cleansing diet would not result in weight loss, unless you are overweight, as it balances metabolism.

By improving my liver's function, I could actually increase my appetite and maintain or gain weight, which had been a long-term goal of mine.

2. Increase energy levels. I was tired of relying on coffee to get me through the day as well as not feeling like I was awake until 12pm and than feeling tired again at 3pm.

3. Drink more water. Before the liver cleanse, water was never really apart of my diet, and I actually made it a New Years resolution that I would drink more water so the liver cleanse accomplished that as well.

Large quantities of water, raw juices or herbal teas are important as they help your kidneys to eliminate the toxins that the liver has broken down.

Why didn't I drink water before? Quite simply because I didn't enjoy the taste. On the cleanse, I added a lemon or an orange slice to the water and was a happy camper.

Here are a few of my favourites recipes so far:

To kick start the mornings, we made a very yummy fruit smoothie that I had gotten from Dr. Sandra Cabot (otherwise known as the liver doctor), author of The Liver Cleansing Diet Book.

1 cup plain soy milk

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 1/2 crushed ice

1 banana

12 strawberries

1 chopped fresh pineapple

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons LSA (flax seed, sunflower seeds and almonds but I just used flex seed)

* You can substitute the pineapple for kiwi fruit as well as add raspberries, blackberries or blueberries

* Also possible to add protein powder

Dinner Meals:

Pita pizzas

1 large pita bread or the smaller pita breads

tomato paste

Vegetables - we added peppers, mushrooms, onions, peppers

Mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Rice and vegetable stuffed peppers 

3-4 green or red peppers

1 cup cooked rice (brown is preferable)

1 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

couple of garlic cloves minced

1 teaspoon of paprika

add a little goat cheese feta

a few leaves of parsley

pasta sauce

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).

Cut the tops off the peppers.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Gently cook the onion until softened, add minced garlic. Cook brown rice separately. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and fill the peppers with cooked ingredients. Place into a greased casserole baking dish and replace the tops of the peppers.

Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes.

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