Ask Digestivo: Consciously Uncoupling with Dr. Alejandro Junger
Recipes for inventing yoga, perfecting your Spanish sibilants, and forgetting you were in Spiderman
We’re back, sweet readers, with your biweekly serving of advice, or something like it. This week’s letter looks more like the latter as we offer a harrowing captain’s log-style account of the annual Goop New Year Detox, a five day “reset” prescribed by the slightly-too-on-the-nose monikered Dr. Alejandro Junger (not to be confused with our number one non-medical doctor crush, Dr. Turmeric). How did we fare, free of caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, corn, nightshades, soy, refined sugar, shellfish, white rice, and eggs? Not well, bitch. Submit your questions, comments, and proposals for slightly expensive semi niche bits at email@example.com.
SUNDAY (Detox Eve)
SB: I started strong by heeding advice to get all my grocery shopping done and prep a few things before the week begins. Right off the bat, I’m shocked by the sheer amount of food this cleanse requires. After spending enough time in the crowded produce section at the PSFC to send me into a low-grade panic, I treat myself to a cab ride home. I tell myself this is in keeping with a very goop-like manifestation of abundance. Flush with the energy of not lugging four tote bags on the Q Train, I make the green chia pudding with triple the prescribed quantity of dates both coconut and oat milk (needed room in the old fridge for all these veggies), the somewhat laborious but promising frozen cherry bon bons, and the chickpea and beet salad minus the tender herbs, which I’ll be sprinkling on tomorrow. I have a burrito for dinner as a final pre-detox meal. I’m obviously not giving up coffee during this detox because I am medically addicted. I’m sure Dr. Junger would understand.
JS: *In my Kristen Wiig Penelope* I also started strong, and I actually went shopping on Saturday so… I too couldn’t help but feel this was a shocking amount of food – I keep a pretty well-stocked pantry and even with that head start, I spent almost double what I usually do on groceries at ye olde Coop. Sunday afternoon I prepped my chia pudding with unsweetened almond milk (mistake #1) and beet and chickpea salad, herbs included. My bonbons started off promising, but – in a transition that might foreshadow the week to come – quickly veered into chaotic and unphotogenic.
MONDAY (Rosh haDetox)
JS: After a steaming mug of hot water with lemon, I tuck into my green chia pudding, finished with toasted coconut and frozen blueberries. It’s boring, but edible (real fans may recall my brush with cursed gr*nol* during the 2019 detox) – I make a note to increase the dates and work a crunchy element into my next serving. I text my co-editor that I’m nervous about lunch. Even with toasted pistachios and a drizzle of good olive oil, the herby chickpea and beets vinaigrette is indeed classic side salad material. Perhaps the smoked trout we bought for lunch later this week might give it that je-ne-sais-quoi? I resist the urge to break from the grocery schedule and instead prep my afternoon snack, an avocado tahini dip billed as “an avocado hummus hybrid but” that tastes mostly like tahini. I wish it were hummus. Everyone loves hummus.
SB: My chia pudding is pretty good, which I owe to using full fat coconut milk (from a can) and doubling the number of dates. I’m pretty liberal with my coconut flakes and pistachio topping, but forget all about the blueberries in my fridge. By lunchtime, I’m acutely aware of how prominently snacking factors into my procrastination (replaced by Twitter for this cleanse period, it seems.) I give up on “writing” and turn to the chickpea salad around 1. It needs hot sauce.
JS: The “pancake technique” does not deliver the crust as promised for the breakfast for dinner hash, a dish that for reasons good and bad reminds me of the way I cooked in college. I dial up the spices but it’s still pretty bland, so I liberally hit it with some Shaquanda’s and am at the very least sated. Hot sauce will be doing some heavy lifting this week.
SB: I enjoyed breakfast for dinner (BFD) but it got a little wet on me, but that’s likely because I added in my enoki mushrooms. I have admittedly begun to wonder if each meal on this detox will make me question if I have indeed finally contracted the novel coronavirus and my sense of taste is going. This is also around the time that I decide not to make the avocado tahini dip and instead just do a little avocado-garlic-hot sauce mash for tomorrow’s breakfast tacos. Tahini can be a little much for me in the best of times and it sounds double riche with something as creamy as an avocado, something Jake confirms.
JS: Not wanting to shell out $12 for cassava tortillas (SB: “I can't pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year”), I opted to turn the sweet potato breakfast tacos into a bowl, incorporating leftover kale and finishing with some pomegranate I had kicking around my fridge. I also pickled my onions with a little red wine vinegar while the sweets (Japanese, per Olivia Munn’s rec) cooked. All things considered, this was a pretty good bowl of sweet potatoes, and it was extremely filling – a blessing, insofar as it made me less disappointed to eat leftover BFD hash for lunch.
SB: Like my co-editor, but ever hungry for carbs, I was unwilling to shell out for Siete shells. Instead, I used some white corn tortillas from Tortilleria Nixtamal to prepare the sweet potato tacos. I know this flies in the face of Dr. Junger’s elimination of “corn” for the week but GP says I know my body best and this body loves corn! I couldn’t help but throw in a little cumin with my sweet potatoes. With the corn tortilla substitution, this was the standout winner among the detox recipes for me. I was skeptical of an eggless sweet potato situation but I stand corrected. The raw za’atar onions made the dish crunchy, citrusy, and unexpected.
Breakfast for dinner feels less tantalizing in its lunchtime reheat, and unfortunately it seems that I have enough leftovers for several more lunches. I invest in new bottles of Chipotle Tabasco and Cholula during a frigid walk. Lucky too, since the Mojo salmon for dinner is likewise in need of a great deal of hot sauce. I wish I had marinated for longer than an hour. After some hemming and hawing, I braised my veggies in the leftover marinade following a little grill pan action. Do grill pans ever really work as intended? Please send tips if you have them. I subbed in some japgokbap gifted to me by friend-of-newsletter and all-around angel April for the half-cauli rice.
JS: I reorganized my pantry this weekend and had a lengthy discussion with my boyfriend about where the grill pan I’ve used maybe once in the five years should live (it’s now behind the bulky ass stand mixer, an arrangement which clearly reflects my culinary priorities). Shaquanda one again adds a little life to this dinner – it’s not quite Hanya Yanagihara status, but I’m slipping into a funk. I sneak a couple bonbons and try to cheer up while prepping tomorrow’s onigiri.
JS: Breakfast is a no from me dawg – I just don’t want a chocolate mxlkshake (cauliflower-laced or otherwise) first thing in the morning and that’s my truth. But these rice balls are actually pretty delish – I sprinkle sansho pepper over everything and plate with a dab of kewpie mayo (let’s call it “veganaise”) and think this is actually something I’d eat on the reg. Looking ahead to dinner, I’m immediately concerned about the prep work for gluten free egg free crispy chicken cutlets: Why are we trying to reinvent the wheel for a five day elimination diet when there are so many simple and delicious ways to enjoy chicken, sans grain free breadcrumbs and arrowroot slurry? I bail on the breading all together and instead pound my chicken into a paillard – to me, the pinnacle of wealthy white woman lunch fare and therefore most fitting for a Goop gourmand lifestyle. I sear it hard in olive oil and deglaze with some capers and a little lemon juice to make a quick pan sauce. I pile on the slaw and swoosh a bit of mustard aioli onto my plate. I’m still angry about the grain free breadcrumbs I never even bought.
SB: I have so much leftover chia pudding and so little time this morning that I decide to put off making the chocolate shake until tomorrow. My salmon balls don’t really cohere because I’m using leftover japgokbap, so I eat my balls as little Emily Mariko-style seaweed tacos. I definitely dot with kewpie. I used regular old panko breadcrumbs for the Crispy Chicken Cutlets™ and doubled the portions to use up my second chicken breast making this meal very tasty for two, but not quite so detox. But you know what? I needed a little treat. Also, I have made a very last minute decision to fly to California (goop approved!) and won’t be doing that Friday fridge “clean out” curry. I am very proud of myself for prepping the cutlets, arrowroot slurry and all, before a three hour P.M. zoom call and frying them up after; it makes me feel like the kind of highly capable woman who has an organized tupperware selection and remembers cleaning tips from Real Simple. I eat several chocolate cherry bon bons during the meeting, camera off.
(SB) Chocolate cauli smoothie for breakfast and I’m unimpressed… she is far too thicc, and I theoretically liked the idea of chocolate for breakfast. I make it through half before stashing the rest in the fridge; I do find myself coming back for it in a fit of hunger after lunch. I used my leftover aioli for the trout salad (delicious) and combined leftover slaw with the leftover beet and chickpea salad in lieu of making the beets vinaigrette. It’s tasty enough, but I kind of wolf it standing up which doesn’t seem to be the elegant snack plate vision as intended. Willis is home this afternoon, so we also broil the last of the BFD Hash in the toaster oven; dried out and a little char suits it.
I also make the spiced chickpea stew for dinner, but found “spiced” to be a little bit of an exaggeration. It’s more like a Brentwood version of the Alis*n R*man stew. I throw in some jalapenos and caramelize my onions for flavor, but I find myself missing nightshades. Frankly, I don’t feel that they ever wronged me. I also topped this with real, full-fat full-dairy Greek yogurt because my body tolerates lactose well, life is simply too short and the week has been too long.
(JS) My second brush with green chia is about as exciting as the first, which is to say not very. But the smoked trout salad snacking plate actually slaps – I remember a similar wasabi fish dip our local fishmonger sells in Florida and contemplate returning to this recipe in the future with a little more heat. Like my co-editor, I took a shortcut for the beets vinaigrette using leftover slaw as my base. Unlike my lunch, I can tell dinner is going to be under seasoned so I do everything in my power to dial up the flavor. I make a quick vegetable stock with celery, carrots, scallion greens, ginger, Diaspora Co. good pepper and a birds eye chile, and – knowing the limits of my off brand (i.e. not Cocojune) coconut yogurt – contemplate other ways to finish this dish. Seeing the stew for what it is, I crack open Dining In for some upwardly mobile white woman inspiration and combine a few recipes to yield something like a preserved lemon herb salsa. It’s fine. I choke down some bonbons and call it a night.
(SB) I begin with leftover chia pudding and am sad to discover that I’ve made it less than halfway through the amount I’ve prepped. It’s a shame, because I didn’t hate it! I think about having leftover chickpea stew for lunch, but I opt for some pre-flight doubles from De Hot Pot instead. I leave behind a fridge of leftovers for my beloved partner, who I hope is making good use of them. My mom made beetroot and dal for dinner, a surprisingly detox-friendly coda to my journey.
(JS) I skip breakfast all together because a) I don’t want the chocolate shake and b) I just got benefits and have scheduled my first physical in eleven years outside of the Columbia University health system. I’m excited to invest in my well being and disproportionately embarrassed because I am among the 14% of the population who suffer from beeturia and am positive I will have to provide a urine sample. (My deep desire to impress the lab staff with the purity of my urine sample is perhaps something to unpack in therapy, which I also hope to start soon.) I begrudgingly eat the leftover stew for lunch, which has slightly improved overnight in the fridge. Like my co-editor, I fully abandon the leftover stir-fry dinner and roast a chicken because I’m worth it. I end up not needing to buy any other groceries and manage to make it to this Wednesday on leftovers from last week’s haul alone.
(JS) The detox could use a substantial edit; with a slightly more seasoned approach to leftovers and a little help from pantry staples, we could probably cut this grocery list in half and end up with something equally if not more flavorful. I remain baffled by the decision to try and replicate verboten ingredients for five days (I’m looking at you, grain free breadcrumbs and tortillas) when there are so many simpler and equally if not more delicious fixes available. The main takeaway was hiding in plain sight in the intro: ultimately you know your body best, and you should probably always cook and eat with that in mind. Today, that’s brown rice salmon onigiri with real Kewpie mayo and a vat of cold brew (in goop health 💕).
(SB) Practically, my biggest takeaway from this week is that writing a shopping list and moving through the week with a plan for five days worth of meals is a bit of a marathon, but a little more planning and prepping on Sunday would behoove me. More spiritually, I notice that I’ve approached this detox with a kinder and more expansive attitude towards myself, a marked difference from diets past. Maybe it’s the global pandemic, but I felt unwilling to make myself any more uncomfortable than absolutely necessary through adopting any hard and fast rules. In terms of the detox itself, I would have loved a few notes around estimated serving size (Chia pudding and breakfast hash? Serves 6. Cutlets? Serves 1 if you’re hungry) and a generous adoption of hyperlinks throughout the Detox site.
Inspired by friend of the letter Eva, I (SB) am revisiting a familiar mango subscription website. Anyone in Brooklyn looking to split a few weeks of absolute solid gold mango ecstasy? Text me.
As avowed evangelists for both the fried shrimp heads at Cervo’s and Happy Naive garlic butter shrimp chips, it will come as no surprise that we’re simply dying to try the matter-of-factly-named shrimp cheek snack, available in exciting flavors like tom yum and salted egg yolk – if anyone has a hookup, please let us know.
The queens over at Diaspora Co. are threatening to launch a gorgeous bronze mortar and pestle this week, prompting us to ask: do you want us to go bankrupt ??? Because I (SB) will! (Add us to your press list, we beseech.)
Have you heardle of wordle? I (SB) am obsessed, while I (JS) am choosing not to acknowledge it in hopes that it will simply go away. (Second friendly reminder to send therapist recs.)