The Conscious Mini-Cleanse

By Rona Berg / January 15, 2014

Renowned raw foodist Karyn Calabrese offers tips on how to get started.


Karyn Calabrese has been a vegan, juicing wheatgrass and pressing her own tofu, for 40-plus years, back in the days when it really wasn’t easy. She became a vegetarian, then a vegan, then a raw vegan, and saw her allergies disappear, her skin clear, her energy elevate, every step of the way.

At 66, Calabrese looks decades younger. She goes on a detox cleanse around four times a year and attributes her glowing health to that as much as to her plant-based diet. “Even if you’re eating perfectly, you’re always taking in toxicity from the air, food, dry cleaning. We’re taking in chemicals on a daily basis, and need to break down those layers consistently, because we are always building them up. That toxicity is what leads to long-term health challenges.”

The Chicago-based Calabrese is one of the top raw vegan foodists in the nation. She owns three restaurants, a holistic day spa, an at-home meal service and is the author of two books—the most recent is Soak Your Nuts: Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods. She teaches seminars and cooking classes, and is perhaps most sought-after for her time-tested detox workshops ( And she is living proof that it works. “I have tremendous energy, focus, clarity, and a sense of balance internally as well as externally with the people around me,” she says. “And I attribute it 2000 percent to detoxing consistently.”

For those just starting out on a cleanse, Calabrese, a veteran of many, says preparation is key. Create an intention and pick a day to start in the future. “When you stop eating and just fast, the body kind of goes into shock. That’s why it is so important to plan. Don’t decide today to do it tomorrow. If you set an intention and repeat the date to yourself, by the time you get there, you’re ready,” she says.

With everyone detoxing these days, or at least talking about it, what’s the best way to start? Ease into it for five to seven days first, says Calabrese, before you start a liquid cleanse. “You need to prepare the body. After you set your intention, start an elimination diet. Give up dairy for a week or two before. If you eat meat, give up meat and chicken a week in advance, but not all at once.”


Karyn’s Restaurant in Chicago is also home to her holistic day spa, detox workshops and cooking classes.

Here’s the transition plan:

Day 1 and 2: Give up dairy.

Day 2 and 3: Give up dairy and red meat.

Day 4: Drink a green smoothie with green chlorophyll (see Smooth Move recipe, below).

Day 4 and 5: Give up chicken. Drink a green-meal smoothie (see Green Meal Shake recipe, below) in the morning, first thing. If you aren’t ready to give up coffee, have the smoothie first, then coffee.

All along the way, before the liquid cleanse, have fish with veggies at lunch. Take vegan or vegetarian enzymes with your meal to help break the food down so it doesn’t linger in the system too long. Drink another smoothie in the evening or have a salad.

When you are ready to cleanse, Calabrese suggests starting with a three-day program, with one smoothie and two vegetable juices per day, “the greener the better.” If you want to add boosters, go for hemp seed, spirulina, chia seed and flax seed. “They tend to make you feel full and they’re excellent sources of protein,” she says. Or nut milks like hemp or almond milk, apple juice, coconut water, which you can drink alone or in the smoothies. Initially, you may feel a bit worse before you feel better. “When you do give up the foods, you may feel like you’re getting a cold,” she says, but the benefits—better digestion, better sleep, increased energy—will come soon enough. And the scale may not change right away, she says, “but your body shape changes.”

What do you do if you feel yourself slipping? “Kiss each shoulder, say it is part of my process and keep moving forward,” says Calabrese. “Don’t punish yourself. You’re not guilty, you’re just human. You’re going to get the benefits you put into it—don’t have expectations, just do the best you can and do it again. It gets easier.”

Here are some of her favorite juice recipes for the cleanse:

Morning Lift Off
This should taste sweet, light and fresh.
Makes 14 ounces

2 handfuls of kale
2 green apples

Combine the ingredients in a blender or
juicer and process until smooth.

Peaceful Warrior
This is bolder on the greens flavor without any real sweetness. Makes 14 ounces.

A handful of kale
A handful of spinach
2-3 stalks of celery
½ cucumber
2-3 carrots

Combine the ingredients in a blender or
juicer and process until smooth.

Green Meal Shake
This delicious shake makes a satisfying raw breakfast or snack that will keep you feeling full and balanced for hours. It is rich in calcium, essential fatty acids, fiber, minerals, protein and vitamins.

1 ¾ cups organic apple juice
1 frozen banana (peel before freezing)
2 tablespoons lecithin granules
2 tablespoons Karyn’s Kare Green Meal Powder
2 tablespoons flaxseed oil or coconut oil

Combine the juice and banana in a blender and process until smooth. Add the lecithin and process briefly. Add the Green Meal Powder and oil and process on low to medium speed until well combined.

Smooth Move with Spirulina

This delicious and creamy smoothie is chock-full of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.

1 cup nut milk
1 frozen banana (peel before freezing)
½ cup coconut water
2 tablespoons cold-milled organic flaxseed powder
1 teaspoon spirulina powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the nut milk, banana, coconut water, flaxseed powder and vanilla extract in a blender and process on low speed until combined. Add the spirulina powder and
pulse a few times until fully incorporated.
Serve immediately.

Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Longtime journalist, author and current editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine, and she has contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. She co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty (Workman Publishing), and is a frequent speaker and guest on radio and television and at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg

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