When integrative physician Alejandro Junger, MD, published Clean in 2009, his progressive book on detoxing, the wellness cognoscenti stocked their Kindles, bedside tables, and bookshelves with his tome that explained the role of food in giving health—or taking it away.
The best-seller was the result of a personal health revelation as much as a professional one, says the passionate Los Angeles-based wellness guru. “I had all kinds of serious health problems. I was like my patients—I had allergies, I had irritable bowel syndrome, I was depressed, and I didn’t want a life on drugs that was being prescribed.” Kicking dairy (“even without chemicals, I was sick as a dog,” he says) along with other “toxic triggers,” changed him from wounded to wounded healer.
Where Clean and his follow-up Clean Gut leaves off, Clean Eats, published this spring, begins, with recipes that teach you a sustainable way of cooking that lets your body be its healthy best, along with tips on how to stock your kitchen with the staples to get you there. “After doing the cleanse, everyone asked for recipes, what I ate or made at home,” says Dr. Junger, who’s even accompanied patients to the supermarket (but for obvious reasons can’t make a habit of it.)
So what should you actually buy besides kale? Whole foods, lots of veggies—ideally local and in season—and clean animal protein, if you choose. (Though he doesn’t.) Another thing he won’t eat? Sugar. “It’s a toxin, you might as well smoke. But if I put ‘no sugar’ in my book, I’m excluding 99 percent of people. I wanted to give everyone a place to start,” he says.
So here’s what the healthy doctor stocks his pantry with at home. (Listed alphabetically.) —Melisse Gelula
1. Almond Butter: A wonderful and sweet peanut butter replacement, this works in smoothies, savory soups and sauces, cookies, or straight out of the jar.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar, unpasteurized: It’s often considered the healthiest vinegar because it has a dozen-plus uses and just as many benefits. It’s loaded with enzymes and aids digestion. You can also add a tablespoon to water with a dash of honey for a refreshing drink. Balsamic Vinegar is a close second for flavoring food.
3. Bragg Liquid Aminos: This certified non-GMO protein concentrate is made from soybeans. It’s gluten-free and has a salty flavor.
4. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is an essential saturated fat that supports immune functioning, weight loss, and digestive health with additional antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s our main cooking oil.
5. Himalayan Salt: An essential seasoning agent, salt is present in just about every recipe, and having too much or too little can make or break a meal.
6. Coconut or Almond Milk: A staple in clean cooking, these milks are something to always keep on hand for soups, dressings, sauces, desserts, shakes, and as thickeners. Buy them organic and unsweetened, or make your own.
7. Dr. Schulze’s SuperFood: My favorite and best-tasting superfood powder, this product is full of organic vegetables, minerals, and nutrients.
8. Lemon: Okay, we had to add one item from them crisper. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a wonder, says Dr. Junger. It goes in smoothies, over salads, soups, and everything.
9. Green Powders: These handy powders are a useful way to add more mineral-rich food to your meals. You can add a scoop to salad dressings, smoothies, and even desserts like cookies, energy bars, or chocolate mousse.
10. Lucuma Powder: This is a dried version of the lucuma fruit from Peru. It has a sweet-maple like taste. You may have encountered it as a smoothie ingredient, but Dr. Junger adds it to salads, “so it’s not just some lonely vegetables.”
11. Nutritional Yeast: This deactivated yeast is rich in B vitamins and protein. It has a cheesy and nutty flavor.
12. Olive Oil: Look for organic, extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles.
13. Seaweed: Mineral-rich sea vegetables like dulse, kelp, or nori can be bought in strips, sheets, or powdered. Dr. Junger also likes spirulina.
14. Wheat-Free Tamari: A gluten-free fermented soy sauce adds a wonderful salty flavor to many recipes in Clean Eats including Asian-Inspired Chickpeas, a dip that doubles as a sauce or salad dressing, and Mushroom Parsnip Stew.
15. Whole-Grain Mustard: A very useful condiment, mustard can be used to create a quick, clean sauce, or salad dressing. Dr. Junger likes the varieties that are sugar-free and made with apple cider vinegar.
For more information, check out Clean Eats: Over 200 Delicious Recipes to Reset Your Body’s Natural Balance and Discover What It Means to Be Truly Healthy.