‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’

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The one-day reset cleanse from Not Your Sugar Mamas is jam-packed with nutrients. — Marnely Murray

Disclaimer: I am by no means a doctor nor do I pretend to be one on television or in newspapers. Please consult your doctor before you integrate any new foods or exercises into your daily life.

Lots of cultures around the world have always known what the Western world is slowly figuring out: that if we let food be our medicine, we’ll feel better mentally and physically. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, my parents sought out specific plants and spices to aid our ailments. For example, our massive garden of aloe vera plants provided us with hydrating nourishment, whether it was blended into a smoothie or slathered on our skin after a long day at the beach. As the day wound down, we’d smell the simmering concoctions my mother would brew to lull us to sleep. Basil and thyme tisanes were her favorite; little did she know that thyme is an appetite stimulant and basil contains disease-fighting antioxidants. That tisane raised us into healthy kids.

Here on-Island, I still seek out the powers of herbs, spices, and a plant-based diet. Whether it’s buying a couple of stalks of fresh aloe vera at the Edgartown Stop and Shop or stopping in to Not Your Sugar Mamas (NYSM) for a meal, I always reach for culinary ingredients before over-the-counter medicines to help me feel better.

When I heard NYSM had introduced a one-day reset cleanse, I met the owners at their cafe in Vineyard Haven to talk all things health in 2017. Ky Keenan and Bennett Coffee are both graduates of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, a school of holistic health, nutrition, and wellness, and they apply their education on a daily basis to create chocolates for their ever-growing brand. Along with the chocolate, they offer takeout foods such as kale salads, Indian dahl soups, gut-healing broths, and more. The one-day reset, offered for pickup at their Vineyard Haven store, is a day of foods that will help your digestive system take a break, cleanse, and reset.

The menu for the one-day reset includes a nutrient-rich smoothie, green juice, kale caesar salad, and a quart of red lentil dahl, along with a printout of instructions to help you through the day, for $40. “Our digestive tract digests everything from food to pollutants to emotions,” Ms. Keenan said. “It’s not an easy job, and it certainly needs a break sometimes.”

Convinced, I tried the full reset as well as some gut-healing broth I planned to sip on if I got too hungry.

I can report I didn’t go hungry at all! Forgoing my morning coffee for a cold smoothie when it’s snowy outside was difficult, but once I sipped on it for a bit, I quickly forgot about the caffeine I thought I was so addicted to. The day was a usual Sunday of crazily writing articles, but I decided a little workout would be good. After getting my sweat on at the YMCA, I was ravenous, but coming home to that Indian red lentil dahl packed with anti-inflammatory turmeric was just what I needed to fill me up. Alongside half the kale caesar salad with chickpeas and vegan dressing, I was set for the rest of the afternoon.

I’m going to interrupt all the food talk to remind you that if you can get a nap in during the day, do it. Sleep is incredibly important for our body, and as adults, we tend to forget that. So I napped, and once dinnertime came along, I was ready for the rest of my food. Throughout the day I also consumed copious amounts of herbal teas and water, which kept me satiated.

If you’re looking to kickstart those resolutions, a stop by Not Your Sugar Mamas for a one-day reset is the ideal way. But if you want to try this on your own, here’s a quick shopping list of essentials to pick up:

  • Turmeric (you can find it fresh at Cronig’s or powdered at Stop and Shop) is the ultimate anti-inflammatory, and you can add it to smoothies, soups, salad dressing, and more.
  • Lemons: You can add to warm water or tea in throughout the day to stimulate digestion and alkalize the body.
  • Ginger, in both fresh and powdered forms, is known to reduce exercise-related muscle pain — I love adding it to my tea, and even a bit in my hot chocolate for a spiced-up beverage.
  • Organic, raw kale is the one green you should always have in your fridge. Packed with chlorophyll, it’s a great detoxifying ingredient, whether you blend it in a smoothie or crunch on it as a salad.
  • Garlic is hands down one of my favorite ingredients, not only because of the gorgeous aromas it adds to foods, but because it’s one of the most antiviral ingredients out there. Consuming it raw in dressings will keep you healthy.

Whatever you do this year, make it a goal to head to the kitchen instead of the pharmacy when you’re feeling under the weather. You might have ingredients that will help you feel better right in your pantry.