Thursday, July 21, 2011

Can, Can, Can You Do the CAN CAN?

A few months ago while channel flipping, I ran across a story on the local Eye on the Bay show about a San Francisco company that makes a different kind of liquid cleanse. Called the CAN CAN Cleanse, this program includes healthy fruit, vegetable, and nut drinks to detoxify your system over one to three days. We all overindulge at times; my vices happen to be coffee, sugar, and carbs. I'd never done a cleanse before and didn't know if I could last even one day, let alone three, but CAN CAN piqued my interest so I thought I'd give it a try.

The program includes eight liquid drinks or soups for each day made from organic fruits and vegetables sourced from local farmers. The menu changes with the seasons so I tried the summer menu:

8:00am  Lemon Lime Juice (lemon, lime, cinnamon, cayenne, filtered water)
9:00am  Green Juice (celery, cucumber, green cabbage, broccoli, fennel, romaine, spinach, kale, parsley, mint, ginger, lemon, apple)
10:30am Hibiscus Tea (dried hibiscus flowers, filtered water)
12:30pm Green Pea Basil Soup (green peas, basil, mint, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, sea salt, olive oil, filtered water)
2:30pm   Watermelon Juice (watermelon, apple, lime, filtered water)
5:00pm  Green Juice (same as above)
7:00pm  Vanilla Almond Milk (raw almonds, vanilla bean, dates, filtered water)
8:00pm  Lemon Balm Lavender Tea (dried lemon balm leaves, dried lavender flowers, filtered water)

Besides the price ($175 for three days, $65 for one day), my main concerns were taste, how I'd feel (detox symptoms can include headaches, irritability and skin breakouts), and the waiver that reveals the juices are not pasteurized. The main benefits I sought: fewer caffeine/ sugar/ carb cravings, more energy, and hopefully lose a little bloat for swimsuit season. 

So how did it go?

Taste varied by drink and over time. It was shocking to have the first lemon lime juice concoction with cayenne pepper and cinnamon. It made a strange start to the program, so different from my usual first beverage of the day, Peet's French Roast with skim. The next drink, the green juice, was even more shocking. Made from a long list of vegetables, it had an earthy smell and grassy taste to start, but then unexpectedly I started to enjoy it. It seemed like each sip tasted a bit different with the various ingredients popping on my taste buds. Everyone else in the family couldn't stand the smell. The hibiscus and lemon balm lavender teas were light tasting herbal teas, nothing extraordinary, although I marveled at the bright red color of the former and lavender scent of the latter. At lunch time the flavor kicked up a few notches with the green pea basil soup. I loved the delicious, warmly nourishing soup with a bright green color to match its flavors. Then at mid-afternoon my favorite beverage came, the watermelon juice. Yummy and summery, I found it a wonderfully refreshing drink that quenched my thirst and then some. Later it seemed a bit strange to have vanilla almond milk for dinner, but I found it surprisingly soothing. It had a mild flavor, and felt creamy and pure going down.

I found enough variety over the course of a day, but since I did the 3-day cleanse, I repeated the same schedule for the next two days. It got a little repetitive and less exciting, yet also somehow I started to enjoy and appreciate the flavors more over time. The unusual ones started to grow on me, while I still looked forward to my favorites (watermelon juice, pea soup, and almond milk). I paid more attention to what I consumed. 

Was I satisfied? The program is about 1000 calories a day and surprisingly I wasn't very hungry. I expected to feel sharp hunger pangs and weakness. Instead I felt pretty good, yet sometimes tired because I cut down on caffeine. The second day I noticed more energy and even made it through my boot camp class okay. The third day I managed a 5 mile hike in the hills with no problem. I still drank one cup of Peet's a day, and also had an approved apple and handful of almonds. It sure made me appreciate the simple acts of chewing and biting more.

Would I do it again? Yes, I would. The CAN CAN website suggests customers do a quarterly cleanse. I'm not sure what the right frequency is, but I can see the rhythmic logic to a seasonal liquid cleanse. Since the menu changes with the season, I'm also curious to see what the other varieties of drinks would taste like. It was a good exercise for my taste buds, for trying a liquid cleanse, and for being mindful about how I felt. It took some willpower and discipline, yet I found it did reduce my cravings for the sugary things and coffee that I usually love. I also lost a few pounds of bloat, a welcome result that gave me a mental lift and motivation to eat healthier moving forward. I wasn't expecting an attitude change from only three days, but I think the experience and benefits will stay with me.

Check out CAN CAN if you're curious, and see what others say on Yelp.

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