Cauliflower Rice Detox Bowl with Za’atar Spiced Chicken is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and is quite possibly the best detox meal around!
We have had several gorgeous spring days here in NYC, it is incredible how the weather shifts the vibe of this town. Toward the end of winter, New Yorkers are crankier than usual. We crave those first few days of spring when restaurants throw open their doors, tables and chairs clutter the sidewalks, and something resembling a smile can be seen on most faces.
It’s spring. It’s glorious. It’s also the season that the murk and gloom and muck is ready to clear from my body, not just my mood. It’s time for detox worthy food!
Let’s be clear here, detox is a buzzword and not necessarily accurate. It is often used in reference to a deprivation diet, a juice cleanse, or a “diet” that essentially makes you feel guilty for existing. It is widely recognized, however, and also sounds much better in a recipe name than “biotransformation cauliflower rice bowls”. See what I mean? That just doesn’t have the same ring to it 🙂
If we were to get technical (and we are) detoxification refers to the removal of the toxic quality of a substance, biotransformation refers to the chemical modification (or modifications) made by an organism on a chemical compound. In other words, our bodies go through a biotransformation process to remove toxins, detoxification is only the removal of the toxic quality of a substance. So can a cauliflower rice bowl technically be called a “detox bowl”? Nope! But I’m calling it that.
Biotransformation is a natural process in our body that we are actually quite good at. However, when our bodies become overburdened by stress, toxicity, and poor dietary choices we lose the ability to function efficiently and a more concentrated, intentional, detoxification protocol is in order.
The liver is the primary organ responsible for detoxification and spring is the season of the liver! Just like the earth wants to shed its winter layer and produce gorgeous spring blooms so does our body want to shed unwanted toxicity and feel rejuvenated and renewed.
Here is the best part, ready?
In order to support your body through all phases of biotransformation (there are 3) You. Need. Food.
Yup, that’s right. You actually need nutrients to complete the biotransformation process. So hey there master cleanse, you don’t work!
Also, hey there 3-day juice cleanse, you don’t work!
Biologically a master cleanse and/or a juice cleanse will get you through phase 1 of biotransformation, which essentially frees xenobiotics and other toxic compounds from adipose and lean tissue into the bloodstream, but without nutrients and other co-factors to turn these xenobiotics water soluble (so they are able to exit the body) you have just flooded your system with yuck, and there is no way to get the yuck out!
It’s like flooding a great party with party poopers and blocking all the exits. You will hear a collective – Wah Wah.
Ok, so if you need nutrients to effectively detox, then geez.. can we get to the salad?
I have a HUGE everything you ever wanted to know about detoxification
post coming up. Now it’s a class! I’m teaching a free class on Detoxification in a few days, scroll down to register 🙂
For now, let’s just make this crazy delicious salad shall we?
Here are 5 reasons Cauliflower Rice Detox Bowl is the best detox salad in the world 🙂
- Cauliflower and Watercress – Cruciferous vegetables which enhance phase II detoxification pathways and help to eliminate xenobiotics more efficiently (Hodges & Minich, 2012).
- Chicken Breast – A good source of B6, and protein is a necessary nutrient for phase II biotransformation.
- Onion (pickled) and garlic – These are in the allium family and help to support and enhance both phase I and phase II pathways in the GI tract, liver, and kidneys (Cline, 2015). These foods are also high in sulfur and sulfur is crucial for detoxification systems.
- Radish – also a member of the cruciferous family and provide a unique molecule called indol-3-carbinol which is very effective at reducing inflammation. Radishes also contain RsPHGPx that acts as an antioxidant in phase 2 liver detoxification pathways.
- Turmeric (in the dressing) – induces glutathione production and glutathione-S-transferase activity. Very long words that basically mean turmeric helps to increase high antioxidant activity and support the liver.
Good enough? I think so. I actually limited myself here too, I could have added every single ingredient because everything in this salad is intentional here to support detoxification. Cool right?
Also, and this is a really important bit, this salad is sooooo dang good! It has all the right flavors and textures; crunchy, creamy, salty, pickled, peppery, sweet. Everything. If you are unfamiliar with Za’atar (the spice on the chicken) I definitely recommend purchasing some. It is a traditional middle eastern spice blend typically containing sumac, sesame seeds, sea salt, oregano, thyme, and cumin but there are many iterations of the blend. I have been using a blend that I bought in London a few years ago from my favorite cookbook author Ottolenghi.
Pickled onion is my secret trick to enhance a salads delicious factor. If you haven’t made pickled onions before, welcome, your life is about to change. Takes about 2 minutes and the jar will last for about a week in your fridge. I pile them high on everything I eat.
Although the whole science behind biotransformation is dense and can feel a bit confusing, start small by focusing on adding good nutrients. A simple shift to increase greater health in your body. Start by adding this salad to your meal plan this week. Simple and delicious.
Cauliflower Rice Detox Bowl with Za'atar Chicken
Cauliflower Rice Detox Bowl with Za'atar Spiced Chicken is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and is quite possibly the best detox meal around!
- 1 small red onion
- 1 tsp coriander seeds optional
- 1 tsp juniper seeds optional
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 cup sliced tomato
- 1/2 sliced avocado
- 1 cup watercress or any salad green
- 1/4 cup sliced radish
- Fresh Turmeric Tahini Dressing
- 1 tsp chive optional
Rice cauliflower in a food processor by dropping in florets and pulsing until cauliflower resembles grains of rice. Alternatively, buy "pre-riced" cauliflower fresh or frozen from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.
- In a large skillet over medium heat melt coconut oil, add cauliflower rice and cook until softened (about 4-5 minutes), add fresh cilantro, and salt. Stir together, remove from heat and reserve.
- Mix together Za'atar, crushed garlic, salt, and olive oil. Spread over chicken. Grill until cooked through (I used a counter top grill and cooked for 12 minutes). Allow to cool, slice and set aside.
Quick pickled onions
- Slice red onion into thin rounds, place in a colander or sieve. Pour boiling water over onions (this is to remove some of the pungency), then place in a small bowl or mason jar. Cover with vinegar, stir in salt and seeds (if using) allow to sit for 30 minutes or up to 5 days.
Place cauliflower rice in bottom of a bowl, top with sliced chicken, pickled onions, diced cucumber, tomato, watercress, and radish. Drizzle with tahini dressing.
- For a vegan version eliminate the chicken and replace with tempeh
- The pickled onions are optional but DELICIOUS!
Nutritional Information is without dressing, you can find the nutritional information for the dressing here.
References for post:
Cline, J.C. (2015). Nutritional aspects of detoxification in clinical practice. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 21(3), 54-62.
Hodges, R. E., & Minich, D. M. (2015, March). Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2015(1), 1-23
Moon, Y. J., Wang, X., & Morris, M. E. (2006). Dietary flavonoids: effects on xenobiotic and carcinogen metabolism. Toxicology in vitro, 20(2), 187-210.
Robbins, M. G., Hauder, J., Somoza, V., Eshelman, B. D., Barnes, D. M., & Hanlon, P. R. (2010). Induction of detoxification enzymes by feeding unblanched Brussels sprouts containing active myrosinase to mice for 2 wk. Journal of food science, 75(6), H190-H199.
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