As is customary in January, I am thinking about health and wellness. After the debauchery of big meals and too many cocktails during the holiday season – I always find myself craving healthier habits in the new year. I thought it would be fun to do a weekly feature on wellness for the next 6 weeks. We’ll talk about skincare, healing, eating well, and spiritual growth. I kick started my personal “campaign towards wellness” with a fabulous cleanse last week. After eating 4 days of soy free, dairy free, meat free, sugar free, and gluten free food I felt like a new woman. For this cleanse, Courtnay Arpano of Courtnay’s Kitchen delivers food to your door every two days. It’s an understatement to say that each item I took out of the insulated bag of food she delivered to my door was better than the next. The soups are heavenly, and the layered salads that come in mason jars were fresh, bright, and so easy to prep. I never would have thought to put dressing at the bottom of the jar, and then the lettuce and toppings on the top. It’s then so easy to dump the contents into a bowl – and even 48 hours after delivery the lettuce was crisp and fresh. For this cleanse you start your day with lemon water and green tea (both inside the delivered bag), and end with Smooth Move (senna-based) tea. It really helps with the detox process and clears you of any pre-holiday stagnation in your gut. I also adored the pre-made veggie frittata I ate for breakfast the first day – as I rarely have time to cook eggs for myself on my way out the door. On the fourth day I had a hummus and veggie “wrap” for lunch. Who knew that Swiss Chard could be used in place of a traditional bread or wrap?
The biggest thing I realized from this cleanse was that I really enjoy (and crave!) fresh food. Being a mom on the go who works part time I am regularly grabbing a protein bar or can of soup when I am rushing from place to place. That means my meals have way too much sodium and sugar, and are really unsatisfying. I felt so spoiled having these full meals prepared for me in advance, and it was so nice to not being eating things loaded with preservatives. If food has enough preservatives to keep it on the shelves of a grocery store for a month, imagine how long the ingredients can linger in your gut. By the end of the fourth day on this cleanse I had lost 4 pounds (mostly water weight I imagine), my skin was perfectly clear, and my joints didn’t feel the slightest bit achy. I’ll delve deeper into these two topics over the next six weeks, but in December I was plagued with allergies that left my face covered in hives and my eyes swollen shut for 48 hours. I also have been battling joint pain for the last 6 months. This cleanse seemed to help on both fronts. While Courtnay’s cleanse is pricey, I have come to realize that when it comes to my health, I rarely regret paying up. I am someone who has issues with self control so 2-3 times a year I like to do a cleanse so that I can reset my eating habits. I need to be reminded of what normal portions looks like, and why sugar/salt should be eaten in moderation. Even after a month of eating junk, this cleanse put me back on the right track and helped me to realize the foods I can eat to really feel my best. Below is a Q&A with Courtnay. As you can imagine she looks amazing, has a great attitude about food, and is a wealth of knowledge if you or your family are in need of a reset. I for one can’t wait to get on board for one of her cooking classes in the near future. Thanks Courtnay for joining us over here on The Sent!
Q&A with Courtnay Arpano of Courtnay’s Kitchen
What is Courtnay’s Kitchen?
Courtnay’s Kitchen is part cooking school, part healthy food incubator and part chicken pie company (We made 370 pies in the month of December that we shipped all over the country!).
What kind of food do you cook?
Local, seasonal, simple fresh food plus the best chicken pies in the world.
What kind of food will people find themselves eating when they sign up for one of your cleanses?
Loads of soups, layered salads (all in one jar so you don’t have to prepare it, but it still stays fresh and crisp), berries, grains, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate and medicinal teas.
Do people usually lose weight on your cleanses?
If they stick to it they will lose 3-5 pounds, but weight loss is not always the goal. Many cleansers are just as interested in overall well-being as weight loss. The goal can be better sleep, breaking bad habits with sugar and alcohol, and clear skin.
Where did you learn about food, cooking, and nutrition?
I have a two-year Culinary Degree from the French school, L’Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, MD. I then followed that up with a Masters in Food Studies and Nutrition from NYU.
Why do you gravitate towards gluten, soy, dairy free foods?
It’s an exercise in clarity. I am not always gluten, soy and dairy free in my own life but for the sake of a four-day cleanse, going without these foods helps to sharpen the mind and teach my clients that they can live without them.
I know you are a southern gal! Do you miss heavier/fried foods that are often featured in southern cooking? What are some good substitutes that are healthier but still qualify as comfort foods?
At home we actually eat it all. I fried chicken last night! I am a firm believer in “Everything in moderation.” When fried foods are made at home using the right oil at the right temperature, fried foods in moderation are fine. But at this point, I do not necessarily crave comfort foods. When I do, I eat sweet potatoes, pinto beans over farro or brown rice. I love sourdough toast with great French butter. And of course, Courtnay’s Kitchen Chicken Pie!!
How do people sign up for a cleanse and what does delivery/pick-up look like?
My little business is mainly word of mouth. People can sign up by emailing me at [email protected]. I will put them on my list serve to learn about all of the Courtnay’s Kitchen offerings.
Do you offer cooking classes or in-home personal cooking for dinner parties?
I teach about twice a month. The focus is typically on basics and getting healthy meals on the table for families. Most of the classes are seasonal – Fall Soups and Stews, Winter Dinner Party, etc. I am currently in the middle of The Mindful Meals cooking series which is a four-class series based on healthy family eating.
What’s next for Courtnay’s Kitchen?
I have a book in the works and hopefully I will actually sit down and finish writing it one day!! And my 12-year-old is building my website with WIX.