21 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Week Four and Beyond

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I wrapped up my Fresh Start: 21 (28) Day Cleanse from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com just in time to tumble into a long weekend of eating and making merry at a reunion of old friends at a beach house in Oregon.

I imagine my detoxified insides recoiling in horror at the gluten-free beer and M&Ms I downed while playing hearts, the apple cobbler made with mounds of brown sugar and Gluten Free Bisquick, and the 16-ounce Americano from the local coffee shop.

See also: - 21 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Week Three - 21-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Week Two - 21-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Week One

But I survived, and came back to my daily life and the question of how to fit the green-smoothie lifestyle into my eating pattern.

First, rewind to Week Three on the cleanse, actually my Week Four because I repeated Week One.

Week Three was a feast, incorporating a black bean and spinach tostada with homemade corn tortillas, quinoa chickpea burgers and sweet potato fries, and pumpkin pie muffins made with almond meal.

I made it all. And I ate it all. Even the roasted chickpea snacks and sweet potato fries.

I will confess that I need some practice at the homemade tortillas, or maybe a tortilla press. But the rest of it I've got down.

At the end of the cleanse, there is a worksheet to list the snacks, recipes and smoothies you like and a monthly meal planner to incorporate them into an ongoing eating plan.

I may be a dreamer, but I think I actually can use these smoothies and other recipes to continue to get fresh fruits and vegetables into my system.

So here are the 10 things I learned from my three (four) week adventure:

1) Spinach and kale are my friends. Before I started the cleanse, I rarely (read VERY rarely) ate spinach, and kale even less often. When I did eat them, it was in a salad, and it felt like a lot of chewing to get to the bottom of the bowl. Now I throw big handfuls into my Vitamix, pulverize it with fruits and water or coconut water and drink it. I promise that it tastes great. I definitely will have a green smoothie every day to up my intake of these nutritious veggies.

2) Somehow, drinking the spinach and kale made me like it better in salads. Can your taste buds train themselves to like green stuff?

3) I slept better when I didn't drink gallons of Diet Coke and cups of coffee.

4) I didn't miss meat or dairy or refined sugar. In fact, I seemed to be less hungry, which seems counterintuitive. This seems to confirm the things I've read about eating sweets making you crave even more sweets. So I'll try to eat more fruit and less sugar.

5) I love pepitas, or pumpkin seeds. The plan uses pepitas and sunflower seeds in a lot of the recipes. They add protein and crunch and flavor.

6) I'm nuts for coconut. Coconut appears in the snacks and granola, coconut water, milk and cream are used in the smoothies and recipes and coconut oil is used in the cooking.

7) Cauliflower is awesome. From the cauliflower "steaks" in Week One to the cauliflower soup in Week Two, I gained new love and respect for this vegetable.

8) Chickpea burgers, from Week Three, remind me of the brown rice vegi-burgers I used to eat years ago. I actually prefer them to hamburgers or turkey-burgers, and this recipe is delicious. It also includes my favorite pepitas.

9) I can control what I put in my mouth with a little planning and effort. Duh.

10) I really do enjoy healthy food. Go figure.

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