Key West Island Eats: Go Cold Turkey

A plate of food on a table - Vegetarian cuisine

There’s a knock on the door and a deliveryman standing out front. Only this isn’t Chinese take-out, or a pizza. Just in time for summer, Charlie Wilson with Help Yourself Cafe has designed a three-day menu to flush out the toxins and rejuvenate your system to keep your body and soul cruising through the season! The Key West Weekly guzzled spicy lemonade and green smoothies and chowed down on lasagna, chilled avocado soup, and my absolute favorites Gazpacho and Ultimate Salad. You’re barely going to believe what we have to report!

“Delivery. Josie. Here’s your food.”

Lou Havran with Help Yourself handed over a stuffed grocery bag full of food to me at my office door complete with a menu and instructions. Immediately, I was blown away. Fresh food at my doorstep, and not just for one meal, but three, and snacks throughout the day! I wonder if I’ve died and gone to heaven, and wish life have been this good in Iowa where my friends didn’t seem phased putting away pizza—the frozen kind! I vividly remember saying, “I didn’t know people still ate those…” my voice trailing off in disbelief.

That’s not all. Before I delve into this project, I’m going to share a little with you about what I know about food, and my defining moments regarding fuel for the bodies.

In Iowa, where cattle is King, my colleagues, carnivorous friends, also tore into sandwiches they referred to as “loose meat,” which can lend itself to anything processed at a nearby killing line of chickens, cattle, and swine. The process was so intense, illegal aliens were employed at these processing plants, and often resorted to relying on methamphetamine (a violent mixture of household chemicals i.e. battery acid, lye, bleach, rat poisoning and pseudoephedrine to give them energy to keep up on the fast-paced killing lines. Visitors and television cameras are never granted access.) The result of using methamphetamine is a powerful, heroine-like high. These employees often resorted to violent crime while in a schizophrenic-like mindset and the food products were sprayed with more chemicals, packaged, and sold, if the meat was in fact “tainted.” By tainted we mean covered in feces or blood from a killing technique gone awry. In Iowa, where a 5,000 head cattle feedlot graced the land two miles north of my place of employment, I wasn’t surprised I ended up violently ill every time I attempted to eat a hamburger for dinner.

Later, at a woman’s conference, an organization had a McDonald’s Cheeseburger and French Fries set out. We played a game. Guess how old the burger and fries were. Eight months old, we were informed. The cheese and “meat” appeared plastic, and similar to the play food I bopped around my PlaySkool kitchen with when I was three. I highly suggest you buy a McDonald’s Cheeseburger, and leave the American staple on your desk for at least three months. The burger, laced with chemicals and other substances created in a chemical lab on the outskirts of New Jersey, will never grow mold. Preservatives prevent the process.

Now that you have a little background, back to the Help Yourself detox.

“The idea behind the detox,” reminds owner Charlie Wilson, “is to give your body a break from its normal routine and give you an extra boost of nutrition.”

Even though I dig health food, I was slightly skeptical of the Green Smoothie staring at me.

“Replace my coffee with mashed fruit,” I ask myself.

Being the sticker for routine, I got in to guzzling a Master Cleanse, Carrot, and Ginger Juice (orange juice, apple, and ginger) and Green Smoothie. The process took me well past lunch to complete. For a mid-day snack, I noshed on a Chopped Asian Salad (sooooo good, soooo satisfying) and waited for the energy I am accustomed to acquiring from three mugs of coffee.

“I do suggest,” Wilson advises her detoxers, “not consuming coffee or alcohol.”

By 4 pm I started to realize how reliant my body… and mind are on caffeine. During a timeframe when I’m typically banging out photos, complex feature stories, and ads, I found myself nearly incapable to crank out content and marketing ideas to my normal capacity.

The text messages, phone calls, and Facebook updates started to inform my friends.
“I suddenly understand what a heroine addict feels like going through withdrawal.”

“I need coffee. A giant Baby Coffee’s Mocha Freeze.”

“I can’t think.”

“I am not myself.”

“I can barely function.”

“I’ve lost a day of my life.”

The feelings of going without my cup(s) o’joe were worse than when I quit the sugar-free Red Bull.

On the other hand, the pain in my neck and upper right shoulder, obviously caused by the caffeine dehydration, was gone.

The food was more satisfying and tasty then you could ever imagine.

Wilson warns, “Some of you may be consuming slightly less calories than you are used to, so if you feel a little hungry on the first day hang in there. By the second and third day you may not even be able to finish the food provided to you.”

Which is exactly my experience.

I went back on the coffee. One can only sacrifice so much. I would imagine more hardcore health nuts could be more sticklers about skipping the coffee and alcohol.

My recommendations: do not attempt to start this when your social calendar reads full. Foregoing the champagne and bottles of wine at dinner with your amigos left me feeling less than satisfied. However since completing this detox I am more conscious of what I am putting into my body, opting for raw food, i.e. fish, salads, veggies, and fruit, especially when going out, and in the end, felt fabulous. But, I must say, if you can dedicate these 3 days to doing this for yourself this detox will put you in tune with your body like nothing else, and as the noon hour creeps up, has invoked a craving for Zucchini Linguini with Marinara Sauce and Pinenut Parmesan!

The Menu: Day One
Spicy Lemonade
Carrot and Ginger juice
Green Smoothie
Chilled Avocado Soup
Chopped Asian Salad
Fruit and Nut Bites

Day Two
Spicy Lemonade
Daily Detox Juice
Green Smoothie
Ultimate Salad
Thai Collard Wraps
Trail Mix
Day Three
Spicy Lemonade
Green Juice
Green Smoothie
Carrot and Ginger Soup
Kale Salad
Zucchini Linguini with Marinara sauce and Pine-Nut Parmesan



Collard Wrap
Chopped raw vegetables mixed in a creamy and spicy almond butter sauce then wrapped up in a collard leaf.



Originating from Spain, there seems to be unlimited variations of this traditional cold soup, Gazpacho. Help Yourself’s version was a delicious blend of organic tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, celery with a background hint of chipotle spice made this a delicious meal I can’t ever curb my craving for!



Master Cleanse
The Master Cleanse is a great way to start your day! Fresh pressed lemon juice with a touch of cayenne and local raw honey is a famous cleanse originally designed to produce the right combination of vitamins and nutrients required to promote metabolic stimulation and as the catalysts for removing mucous, where it is believed our toxins are stored. Help Yourself uses honey to replace the original maple syrup as it is raw and from a local source.



Ultimate Salad
The Ultimate Salad is a delightful medley of mixed greens with tomatoes, broccoli, avocado, dulse (seaweed), spicy pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sprouts and a the most refreshing salad dressing to ever hit your lips—lemon tahini!



Green Smoothie
The Green Smoothie is mixed frozen organic fruit with different dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale, spirulina, goji berries, coconut milk.



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