Starting a 3-day vegetable soup cleanse with a large cappuccino and a slice of jam-and-cream sponge roll was arguably not the smartest idea I’ve ever had.
But we had to welcome a new team member at work, and everyone knows the traditional way our tribes welcome new members is by eating baked goods in front of them.
I didn’t want to be cast out of the cave.
When the call went out among The Riot ACT’s contributors, for someone to try out a soup cleanse that was newly available in Canberra, the silence was deafening.
Always curious to try something different (and lured by the offer of a post-cleanse slap-up dinner with The Riot ACT’s co=owner), I bravely put up my hand.
Mr Perkins is something of a Bondi Beach institution, loved by locals for its menu of famous soups, salads, sandwiches and smoothies that are all made with fresh organic ingredients and crafted with the advice of a dedicated nutritionist.
Following its local success, My Perkins has expanded their operations into catering and wholesale, and now, a ‘Wellness Range’ that includes pre-prepared fresh cleanse packages that can now be delivered to Sydney, Melbourne and – now – the ACT.
I was probably a good candidate for a detox. A relationship breakdown and a crappy work situation resulted in a tough year last year, with one of the consequences being that I came out of the year carrying several unwanted extra kilos (why, oh why, can’t I be one of those people who loses weight when they’re stressed?!).
Fortunately, life got a lot better, as it always does. And since late last year, I’ve been taking great care of myself, which has included trying a dietary approach of very little sugar, dairy, wheat/grains or starchy stuff (potatoes, rice, pasta).
Sounds tougher to stick to that it is, but I’m a good routine and feeling pretty great as a result. So I wasn’t too fazed by the idea of eating nothing but simple vegetable blends for three days.
Though the idea of giving up caffeine and alcohol was a little alarming.
You can choose to stick to your soups for one, two or three days. I opted for the full three days, and picked up my boxes of soup from the local contact at the Vantage Strata office in Reid on a Wednesday morning.
Mr Perkins recommend you ease into your cleanse on a Monday morning, after a quiet weekend of cutting back on sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol. But because my products expired the following Friday, I started right away. Well, right after the coffee-and-cake morning tea.
Each box contains six surprisingly large jars, each around 450mls, containing a day’s worth of soups and smoothies. The jars are actually numbered (clever!) so you know what order to work though. You also get plenty of instructional pamphlets, plus a reusable spoon and a cute stripey straw.
Highly-respected good food advocate Michael Pollan once said, ‘Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food,’ and it’s pretty solid advice. Therefore, it’s actually very nice to see each product lists just a few simple ingredients: fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and beans, herbs and spices.
Some also contain a little sea salt for taste; the ‘dessert’ option has maple syrup for sweetness. But that’s about it.
My timing means I start with the 3. Green Soup, which actually proves to be one of my favourites. It’s a surprisingly tasty blend of broccoli, leek, spinach, coconut cream and cumin. Warmed up and with an extra pinch of sea salt and pepper added (is that cheating?) – it hits the spot for lunch perfectly.
I don’t actually eat a lot during the day, so I’m still feeling pretty full when it’s time for the afternoon snack, the gorgeously pink 4. Strawberry Gazpacho. I’m wary of this one: the idea of cold soup has never really appealed to me. But with strawberries, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, ginger, lime and basil, it’s cool, refreshing, and quite easy to drink: more like having a fruit smoothie than a soup.
The dinner option is another favourite of the pack, 5. Root Veg Soup, a bright yellow blend of carrot and sweet potato with coconut cream and soothing turmeric. Again, with a sneaky pinch of good-quality salt and pepper, it’s yum.
The dessert option of a 6. Berry and Chia Seed Pudding is delicious – I’m a big fan of chia seeds, served up here with blueberries, strawberries, coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. But I only make it about half way through before I’m too full to eat anymore.
This works out well though, as the lush 1. Green Smoothie for breakfast contains avocado, which I’m mildly allergic to. It also contains banana, coconut milk, spinach, spirulina and cinnamon – so I have a bit of a taste, enough to confirm that it’s perfectly edible, before switching to my leftover chia pudding for brekkie. Note the green smoothie is very thick, especially straight out of the fridge – so while the supplied straw is cute, you might need a spoon as well.
The last one left to try is the mid-morning 2. Shitake Broth. I knew I’d love this one and I wasn’t wrong – it’s unusual, but if you like mushrooms, you’ll like this. It’s a clear broth of celery, carrot, mushrooms, shitakes, parsley garlic, ginger and sea salt. I heat it up and drink it straight from a mug, so it helps fill the gap left by having no tea or coffee.
The three days went by very quickly, and overall, I didn’t really struggle with the program at all.
Most people I showed the pack to commented on just how much food there was for one day, so it’s not surprising that I didn’t get hungry at all.
[Special shout-out to my team member, who somehow managed to come into the office kitchen for a biscuit or chocolate every time I was in there. Let’s see who’s laughing at performance review time!]
Possibly because I hadn’t been eating too badly anyway, I’m also pleased to say I didn’t experience any of the yucky detox effects you might expect from a program like this – no upset tummy, no headaches etc. If you’re making a greater dietary leap, it might be worthwhile preparing for a more challenging experience.
Giving up coffee and red wine is a bit of a sacrifice, but for just a few days, it’s definitely doable.
And I really didn’t feel tired or low in energy at all.
Importantly, the program isn’t pitched as a weight loss solution, but let’s be honest, that’s what everyone wants to know. So for what it’s worth, I lost 2 kilos over the three day period. At 6,168 kilojoules (1469 Calories) per day, the cleanse isn’t super low in energy, anyway.
If you’d like to sample the Bondi foodie experience and give it a try, orders must be received by 12 pm Sunday for delivery the following Tuesday to Canberra.
It’s not cheap, at $69 per day or $207 for the three-day pack – but you’re paying for quality ingredients as well as the convenience of not having to prepare it for yourself. And if you are at all into cooking or craft, you’ll find plenty of uses for the fabulous jars afterwards!
Products are fresh and don’t include preservatives, so don’t order them until you’re ready to consume by the expiry date.