Many people are probably doing menu planning for things like Sunday football, Halloween parties, and fun fall festivities that involve pumpkins, other fall squash, brussel sprouts, apples, and cinnamon. In my home, I am shopping and cooking for something that is not considered festive, though worth celebrating, my husband’s withdrawal from opiates.
So far these past two weeks have been arduous. Detox in my home has looked like this (and pretty much in this order):
- sleep for 2 days
- vomiting, nausea
- severe anxiety
- insomnia, restless leg syndrome
- connection, talking, energy, hope
- more anxiety
- peeling dry skin
- more depression
- angry outbursts
- sullen and moody states
- even more depression
- more anxiety
Throughout this, work, chores, and the fight to get into rehab. Oh and menu planning. Seeing as I am not a doctor nor an addiction specialist, but I enjoy cooking and I am interested in holistic healing and nutrition, this was one of the ways I felt I could support and nourish my husband as the toxins exit his body. I have been doing some reading about nutrition in recovery. Keep in mind this is not exactly that. My husband has been in the acute stages of withdrawal from opiates so this menu planning is not about creating a long term healthy eating nutrition plan (although it has to start somewhere). This is more like a survival menu to keep him nourished as he pushes through the emotional and physical pain. This is also a menu that stays true to my self-love plan, cooking, and eating delicious and nutritious foods.
So typical of my left brained self, I started with some research about healing and cleansing foods. Here is some of what I learned:
- Try to reduce the toxic load that needs to be processed by the liver by choosing organic foods and replacing animal proteins with plant proteins. Drinking plenty of filtered water, white and green tea (although I don’t recommend caffeine in acute WDs because of anxiety).
- For adequate fiber intake: smoothies with blended fruits and vegetables
- For clean plant protein: chia seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds,flax seed, chlorella, spirulina, beans, quinoa, cooked lentils
- Foods and herbs with cleansing properties to support liver health and digestion: nettles, dandelion leaf, burdock root, milk thistle seeds, lemon, turmeric, cilantro, ginger, cayenne pepper, radish/daikon, cucumber, celery.
- Other helpful foods for liver: artichokes, watercress, cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and kale, healthy fats (like from salmon or herring), and extra virgin olive oil
Now remember, this is acute withdrawal phase, so while all of those foods are good and healthy, I had to be flexible in figuring out what my husband could ACTUALLY eat and keep down as well as what fit into our budget. In the first 2-3 days he consumed nothing but water. After that, in the past 10 days or so these are the foods that have been tolerated pretty well:
- Smoothies (some basic recipes to follow)
- Granola with coconut and chia seeds
- Seeded bread toast
- Homemade fall chicken soup (recipe to follow)
- Coconut water
- Greek yogurt
- Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew
- Water with lemon
- Zucchini bread
- 365 brand Mediterranean style frozen pizza
Some of the smoothies I have been making using all organic ingredients:
- Green: apples, kale, celery, coconut water, lemon, cucumber, some type of frozen fruit like mango or pineapple
- Blueberry: banana, yogurt, coconut water, chia seeds, frozen blueberries
- Tropical: pineapple, banana, coconut water, frozen mango, kale/spinach, lemon, orange and/or grapefruit
- Nut: vanilla Greek yogurt, almond butter, bananas, almond milk, chia seeds, honey
Note: I use a Vitamix to make these smoothies
The chicken fall soup was a hit and allowed me to get a bunch of healthy foods into one meal.
It also lasted almost all week for the 2 of us. I am making it again this weekend. I am going to share the recipe, but keep in mind I do not use a whole lot of measurements when cooking, more like instinct. So do what you will with this. I am adding some visuals hoping that will help with measurements if you would like to make this. Again using organic ingredients:
- 2 organic bone in chicken legs
- Chicken broth (about 4 cups)
- Water (about 4 cups)
- 6-8 stalks celery
- 4 medium onions
- 6 cloves of garlic
- Butternut squash, as much as you see fit
- 4 carrots
- Canellini beans (1-2 cans or 1 box)
- Olive oil or coconut oil
- Fresh tarragon
- Fresh sage
- Red pepper flakes
Roast the chicken legs with salt, pepper, and olive oil or coconut oil in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Put half of the celery, 2 onions, and all of the garlic in a pot with chicken broth, water, a big bunch of tarragon, and the roasted chicken legs (they aren’t fully cooked yet). No need to chop all of the veggies, they are just to flavor the broth. Bring to a boil, then put on low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 4 hours.
Roast the cubed butternut squash in sage, olive oil or coconut oil, and salt and pepper, until cooked. About 30-40 minutes in 400 degree oven. Remove from oven.
Chop up carrots, remaining 2 onions, and celery and saute in butter until soft.
Strain the broth, removing and discarding all of the cooked veggies and tarragon. My husband likes the meat off of the chicken, so I remove this, discarding skin, bones, and fat, and put it back into the broth. Otherwise I would personally skip this step. Put the broth into a pot on the stove. Stir in the mirepoix (soft butter cooked veggies), butternut squash, cooked cannellini beans (from a box or can), and chopped kale into the broth. Add red pepper flakes to your taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat and stir on low for another 25 minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Vegetarian variation: skip the chicken, use vegetable broth
Meat lovers option: add some cut up sausage
Soups have always been one of my favorite fall and winter dishes, a bowl of steaming hot comforting love. My husband and I enjoyed this soup very much and it packs a healthy punch. Remember you do not have to be detoxing from opiates in order to enjoy this festive and hearty fall inspired soup. In the spirit of shattering stigma this soup is for any human, using, recovering, withdrawing, or sober. Peace and enjoy.
(Feel free to comment with questions, comments, cooking experiences since I know nothing about writing recipes. Suggestions and recipe shares welcome too).
Note: everyone’s experiences with opiate detox are not created equal. This is not meant to be medical advice. Please contact a loved one and medical professional if considering recovery, including, withdrawal from opiates. Contact a loved one either way.