Food Matters: Detox to Retox

THE COUNTDOWN to the 35th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is on. For weeks I’ve been bugging restaurateurs and bar managers while assembling my perennial roundup of parties and events happening outside of the event proper for the special mini-magazine published by the Aspen Times. As usual, most folks cannot or will not confirm their schedule until we’re down to the wire. Sure, it’s frustrating, but alas, that’s the Aspen way.

Meanwhile, my private chef friends are conference-calling clients, weighing options, and securing gigs. They’re out on buying trips, testing menu items, and trading experimental recipes. They’re also getting some rest in anticipation of the eighteen-hour days that will become the norm during summer catering season. It’s stressful, of course, but it’s the Aspen way.

Other people — myself included — greet this first week of June with a vague sense of panic. Time is running out to complete a springtime ritual: a cleanse. Especially for those of us who hit it extra-hard this winter, a juice cleanse offers a welcome reset. And because Aspenites are thrill-seeking maniacs who excel at one-upmanship, talk of such regimes exhibit the same brand of competitiveness that characterizes conversation about how many days we clocked on-mountain or nights spend in Moab without showering.

Despite varying research on the safety of such programs — one major qualm is that fruit and vegetable juices lack beneficial fiber — juice flows freely in Aspen (see “Get Juiced,” opposite page). Some might say it gushes. Beyond that, nutritionists and other medical practitioners sell prepackaged programs to quash cravings and kick-start more healthful eating habits. And who doesn’t know at least three people on the “healthy living revolution” bandwagon, hawking Juice Plus+?

During a routine adjustment with my chiropractor, I casually mention that I’m planning a detox with Purium, the 10-day “transformation cleanse” that I stretched to a giddy 17 days last spring. (Perhaps higher than I’ve ever been, I wrote a series of articles detailing my experience in the April 28 to May 26, 2016, editions of “Food Matters.”) I have some shake mix leftover, and my body is begging for a break from the sourdough baking experiments that have defined my offseason meals. I want to know if she’s still selling Purium, since I’ve convinced a friend to try it with me.

“No, I’ve found something even better!” she replies.

Poof! In an instant, any pride I feel about my Purium plan evaporates. And the competitive voice in my head wonders why I haven’t heard about this great new cleanse yet. I begin to wonder if I’m missing out. Just like juicing, FOMO thrives in Aspen.

My friend ends up sidestepping official sales reps (and forgoing the $50 first-timer rebate) and purchases Purium via Amazon Prime. She’s heading to Cabo and determined to do so bikini-ready. Time is tight — she’s in a race with herself. It works.

In typical Aspen Extreme fashion, we discuss her experience following an epic Memorial Day weekend shred sesh while pigging out on cheesesteak eggrolls and “totchos” smothered with cheez whiz at Zane’s Tavern. Our health-obsessed dude friend is sitting with us, pounding beer and scowling at our choices. It should be noted that I ordered the fried food for the table — cleanse starts tomorrow! — and my girl commanded a salad for good measure. Ranch dressing on the side for dipping, natch.

Conversation turns to crazy cleanse anecdotes. Top topic: activated charcoal. I’ve noticed the stuff has begun to infiltrate juices here in Aspen, having already blown up the Internet earlier this year. A toxin magnet, activated charcoal helps prevent poison from being absorbed by the stomach. While used in hospital emergency rooms to detox patients who’ve overdosed, it’s also sold in capsule form; I purchased a bottle about a year ago to use in homemade facial masks. Directions indicate that one mustn’t eat or drink for three to four hours before or after ingesting it. While I might sip on lemonade turned slate-gray with activated charcoal, the idea of swallowing the pills skeeves me out. I can’t bring myself to go there. Yet.

Next our buddy shares a story about a fit-fanatic friend who submits to water fasts periodically. “Dave did it a week,” he said. “Just water.”

I’m unable to hide my skepticism. “A whole week without anything but water?” I stab at the mass of crispy potatoes smothered in molten sauce. “How is that safe?”

(Short answer: it’s not, probably.) “He says it clears you out,” our friend continues, shrugging. Still, I silently wonder if I might be able to summon the discipline required to accomplish such a feat. Purium is one thing — and restarting the program while the new CycleBar Aspen is offering its grand-opening week of free community classes presents a unique challenge, since the company advises against heavy-duty exercise on the plan. I decide not. Subsisting on water only for a whole week? Scary.

In a place where one can kick her own ass to climb to the top of the screen at CycleBar — which emails your “stats,” such as distance ridden, calories burned, and rank among classmates following the workout — then feel defeat upon stepping outside into rain, afternoon hiking plans dashed, it often seems as if everyone is subtly trying to outdo each other. Not to mention oneself.

Ironically, this becomes crystal clear upon cleaning out my kitchen. I’ve accumulated a number of gadgets and appliances that take up too much space in relation to the amount of time that I spend using them. So, after years of allowing it to sit, neglected, in a cabinet, I decide to sell my still-shiny, four-year-old Breville Juice Fountain Plus extractor. Blender smoothies are more my jam nowadays (fiber, yo).

Perhaps I price the juicer a tad too conservatively when I post the ad on Roaring Fork Swap and five other Facebook groups one morning, because I receive my first comment within seconds. I secure a buyer mere minutes later: a friend who texts me directly, urgently. “Amanda! I’ll totally take your juicer!”

Since the first girl isn’t answering my private message, even though I respond immediately to her comment indicating that I sent a PM (typical!), later that day I agree to sell it to my gal pal.

When the stranger finally figures it out — more than 25 hours later — and I tell her it’s already been snapped up, I can’t mistake her effort to trump me in the end.

“That’s OK, I ended up finding another one,” she wrote. “It all works out. Have a great day.”

Spring cleanse starts tomorrow…[email protected]

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