Thursday, 14 April 2016

Diary of a Detox

Traditionally, the beginning of the year is a healthy antidote to the indulgent Christmas festivities and those new found resolutions are still going strong come spring season. However, the party never stops in HK and there are limited windows to detox in the city that celebrates New Year twice! Hello hangovers.  After feeling heavy and lethargic for one Monday morning too many, I decided to get involved with the latest health trend: juicing.  As a long term devotee of the gorgeous goddesses at Genie Juicery, this was my first and only choice for three days’ worth of green goodness to flush out those toxins and give my body a chance to recuperate and rejuvenate.

Typically, I am not a fan of fad diets or restrictive eating habits, as I am convinced that they are unsustainable in the long-term. There was no denying that I was in a food rut and my choices had become motivated by convenience and compulsion, rather than consideration for my body’s needs. I seriously needed to check myself, regroup and revaluate my lifestyle choices. A juice cleanse appealed to me, particularly because I looked upon the process as the perfect opportunity to kick start a healthier eating pattern and inspire a more mindful attitude towards food preparation and consumption. Before my cleansing crusade began, I had tried a wide variety of Genie goodies, so I knew that I wasn’t going to be faced with bottles of bizarre brews. I can wholeheartedly say that every juice I consumed was fresh, tasty and actually, quite a pleasure to drink.

I must admit that I wasn’t entirely schooled up on exactly why it is more beneficial to drink fruits and veggies. I turned to the Genie Bible (a comprehensive breakdown on the benefits of nature) and I learned that fruits and veggies, in their raw form, are super sources of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. The hype is real, folks and I have heard that people who consistently drink raw, enzyme-rich juices feel more energetic, have clearer skin, healthier hair and nails and stronger resilience to infection. Sounds like all round #winning. And now, for the sciencey bit: drunk in their juice form, these valuable nutrients pass rapidly through the blood stream and are 100% absorbed by the body, because there is no solid food ingested to get in the way of this process. I was intrigued to try this myself and hopefully reap some of the rewards.

The week before Mission Detox, I had an extensive consultation with the Genie gurus who analysed my lifestyle, schedule, work commitments and personal taste buds. It was recommended that I try their newly released Wedding Cleanse; a custom designed raw, vegan, gluten free and cold pressed blend of nourishing delights. Although this cleanse is targeted at brides-to-be, the promise of dewy skin, silky smooth hair, boosted metabolism and a flatter tummy is something that all of us ladies covet and are striving to achieve.

The Juices

The Genie Wedding Cleanse consists of drinking eight juices per day, for three consecutive days. Each morning, I received a cooler pack that contained The Master, Bo Yo, Green Dream, Life Blood, Watermelon Chia Cooler, Vitamin Sea, Crazy for Coconut and Sweet Dreams. I chose to swap out Watermelon Chia Cooler for Garden Gnome, simply because of my own personal preference. My request was absolutely no issue and I was thoroughly impressed by the flexibility of the Genie gals and their paramount concern for the comfort and care of the client.

Each bottle was conveniently labelled with a number, so it was clear when to drink each juice. Totally hassle free. The Master was the perfect replacement for my usual cup of steaming espresso and was just tart enough to wake me up in the a.m. with a zing, before indulging in the luscious smoothie, Bo Yo. Green Dream was the ideal pallet cleanser to make way for the most surprisingly enjoyable addition of the lot: Life Blood. I say this because I was foolishly prejudiced and decided that beetroot was not to my taste and therefore, I would dislike this juice. Well, let’s just say that Genie showed me! It was the perfect blend of sweet and sour, with a consistency just thick enough to fill me up, yet still very easy to digest. The ultimate star of the show for me was Sweet Dreams - a delectable vanilla almond milk to savour before bed time. I genuinely looked forward to this all day long and tried extremely hard not to gulp it down in one go!  

Day One

We’re all friends here so I’m not afraid to admit that I woke feeling rather intimidated by the prospect of surviving on juice alone for the next three days. An even more challenging Monday lay before me without the comfort of my usual frothy coffee and refined sugar fix to ease the pain. As I am clearly a sharer, I will also let you in on the day that I lost my psyllium husk virginity, which was predictably awkward, embarrassing and messy.  I didn’t add enough water to the husks (completely my own fault) and started off my first ever detox with what felt like a throat full of sawdust. #epicjuicingfail

Otherwise, the morning went without a hitch and I was revelling in the novelty of the juice varieties and excited to sample those that I hadn’t tried before. As the afternoon approached, I felt slightly shaky and began to suffer with a headache - due to the lack of coffee in my life. I knew that the caffeine withdrawals would be brutal but, as I am prone to headaches in general, this was the hardest part of the detox for me to deal with. To take my mind off my pounding temples, I packed my lunch time juice and went for a manicure. Any excuse, eh?!

Despite the amount of liquid I consumed, I still felt thirsty enough to down two litres of water, hot lemon water and a peppermint tea, throughout the day. I reflected on the amount of times that I eat when I am actually not hungry at all or, just because it is a certain time of day. It was enlightening to consider food in a different context and it was incredible how much I started to appreciate the food that I usually take for granted.  

That night, I tucked up early with Sweet Dreams and slept soundly.

Day Two

I woke up before my alarm went off (which rarely happens!) and felt alert and full of energy. I did some light yoga stretching before tucking into The Master and pin pointed the juices that I was looking forward to later in the day.   

I felt fantastic and bright-eyed until late afternoon when the dreaded headache took over. I avoided taking my usual dose of paracetamol, as I thought it would interfere with the cleansing process and found alternative ways to rid myself of the discomfort. This was such a useful exercise and I will definitely be taking those techniques forward…step away from the medicine cabinet and the grande latte.  

During the detox, I never felt hungry as Genie has devised a genius menu to cover all of our nutritional bases. Interestingly, I craved healthy food and dreamt about a plate full of salmon and colourful veggies. One of my favourite results of this detox was the increase in my confidence to try new foods and I finally felt equipped to implement a real change in my dietary choices.

Day Three

I literally sprang out of bed and felt like I could run the world, Beyonce style. I decided that I was certainly going to incorporate juicing into my routine - most likely as a healthy breakfast option.
My skin broke out a little, which is completely normal and due to all of those nasty toxins leaving the body. Thankfully, it was nothing a decent concealer couldn’t fix, so I covered those bad boys up and skipped out to take on the day.

One of the most thought provoking aspects of my juicing journey was the realisation of just how much my eating patterns are determined by my psychology. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I sit down to two burgers and six beers a night, but I often eat and drink far more than I ever need to out of greed, boredom and lack of preparation. I resolved to listen to my body more carefully and fuel it with more organic and natural produce. The ability to endure a lengthy cleanse is often a case of “mind over matter” and the fact that I completed a successful detox has boosted my morale and given me the drive to attempt other challenges in the future.

This was the easiest day for me, perhaps partly because I knew the end was nigh! I met a friend for a catch up and although I was momentarily distracted by the syrupy coffees on offer, I stuck to a green tea and discussed my experience with my pal, who happens to be an expert cleanser herself.


In my case, this experiment was absolutely not about losing weight but I did track my lbs for the purposes of this diary. Over the course of three days, I lost three pounds but - much more importantly - I felt light and springy in that sickeningly smug and annoying way. Sorry! Everyone from my husband, to friends, to colleagues complimented the positive shift in my appearance which was just a lovely added bonus. I am totally converted to juicing and I think it is a very healthy practice to do, periodically. At the moment, I am planning to do this once every quarter, as I firmly believe in the detoxifying benefits of cleansing.  Just think about all of the alcohol, salt, sugar, caffeine and processed foods that we expect our liver, kidneys and intestines to deal with every darn day. It’s the least we can do.  

To learn more about the Wedding Cleanse, stop by one of the Genie stores in IFC, or on Hollywood Road and read all about it at

All images courtesy of Genie Juicery

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Bringing the Yankee to Honky

Last Saturday, the stars and stripes were out in full force at the inaugural Great American Barbeque. With a huge variety of food and beverage booths, a stage, a big screen and a dozens of picnic tables; the event covered the outdoor space of The Podium in Cyberport. I was invited along by Hush Up Events - who organised the showcase of American BBQ culture - to celebrate the culinary diversity of the US’50 states. Keeping the promise of craft beers, American wines and cheesecake in mind, I was excited to experience a unique day out.

BBQ Crew
Upon arrival, I was struck by how welcoming the large open space was and instantly felt like I was at a neighbourhood barbeque. The 4,000 square metre venue was decorated colourfully and dotted with little ones and grownups, milling around with hot dogs in hand. The atmosphere was buzzy but not overwhelming and relaxed but not boring. The crowds were certainly present but the queues moved quickly and there was table space for any of those who didn’t feel like panning out, barefoot, on the grass. I think this was a testament to the fantastic skills of the organisers who used wrist bands, and vouchers to purchase food and beverages, to ensure that everyone had a stress – free day. After I was presented with my tickets, I headed straight for the food. Obviously.

Food, glorius food!
I tucked in to the wide variety of BBQ favourites on offer (for research purposes only, of course) and was particularly impressed by the smoky beans, corn on the cob and mac ‘n’ cheese. I also have in on very reliable authority (the husband) that the hamburgers and jumbo hot dogs went down a treat. To sweeten the deal, I enjoyed one of the tastiest baked cheesecakes in a long time and sampled the mouth-watering chocolate brownies. After washing it all down with a couple of bottles of Bud, I was ready for the entertainment on offer.

All You Can Eat
The live band played all-American tunes that injected a feel-good vibe into to event and provided the perfect soundtrack to the conversation of family and friends. Games ranged from a Tug of War competition to the Rose Rib Eating Contest and the Beerhound Beer Drinking Challenge. There was a fine distraction for the kids (and our friend Ben!) who watched old classics at the silent outdoor cinema while the adults let their hair down. These novel twists made the day feel fun, familiar and family – focused.

Ben loving Happy Feet!
Hong Kong Yankees should be proud of this exhibition of all things USA and the celebration of the united tastes of America!

As the day wound down, I chatted with Rachel and Charlotte from Hush Up Events, who filled me in on some of the exciting and innovative music and performance projects they have up their sleeves for Hong Kongers. Hush Up are brining something truly unique to HK and I will certainly have my tickets for the Private Hot Tub Cinema on reserve!

With Charlotte - Hush Up's Event Manager
For more info on upcoming events check out

Friday, 10 October 2014

Genie in a Bottle

The daily grind in Hong Kong is often frantic and indulgent, leaving most of us in desperate need of a detox. We would all like to be fitter, healthier and more sparkly but, put simply, there are not enough hours in the day. Thankfully, Genie Juicery (the city’s first cleanse program, don’t cha know) is on hand to offer your favourite health – focused juices and snacks in a Hong Kong minute. Genie has found a new home in ifc mall, offering tasty juices that are both nourishing and delicious with super friendly and knowledgeable staff to guide you through their huge selection. Now, there really is no excuse to slack on the health kick - step away from that almond croissant.

Orang Utan

Hailed as HK’s first neighbourhood juicery, Genie is the latest buzz in the city after the massive success of their cleanse program. The brainchild of supermodel Cara McIlroy and her business partner Melanie Barnish (follow them on Instagram for some serious hair and body envy); Genie has been delivering cold press juices since 2011. These delectable ladies are not just pretty faces and are both qualified Health Coaches from the school of Integrative Nutrition.
Before becoming green gurus, Cara enjoyed a stellar career as a high profile fashion model and television personality and Melanie displayed her design skills as the head of a handbag and footwear brand. Both women are now fully fledged entrepreneurs and self – proclaimed health nuts who have merged the two ideals to form a one – stop shop for all things healthy. There really could be no better advertisement for the benefits of Genie and these beauties are the picture of health and wellness - girl crush alert!
One of the things that I personally love about the Genie ethos, is that the focus is not on weight loss or deprivation. There is no size zero nonsense here and investment in the produce promises to give more energy, glowing skin and shinier hair. Genie is the perfect antidote to the frenetic modern rat race that we are all caught up in and has become my favourite way to shake up my daily HK routine.
Genie Juices
What to drink: Cold pressed, raw and living juices, smoothies and nut milks and cold brew coffee are all available over the counter in the ifc flag ship store (or online for added convenience). Genie juices are 100% raw and unpasteurised and the consistency is smooth and easy to drink. To be perfectly honest, I was never a smoothie or juice fan before I discovered Genie. I am extremely sensitive to the texture of food and beverages and yes, I am aware of how weird that is! I have been lucky enough to test almost every offering and I was so impressed by each and every variation. Even those that are not to my personal taste are very drinkable and I switch up my daily dose depending on what my body needs. My favourties are:
Garden Gnome: apple, pear, lime, ginger and spirulina
I love having this in the morning as it’s zingy flavour really wakes me up and sets me up for the busy working day
Garden Gnome
Supreme High: cold brew coffee, almond, date, vanilla bean and pink Himalayan salt
This beats Starbucks every time for a caffeine fix with extra goodness

Supreme High
Gym Junkie: raw vegan protein, protein powder, almond, date, vanilla bean, banana, pink Himalayan salt
Created to compliment a work out but it also serves as a sweet treat minus the guilt

Gym Junkie

The juices range from HKD$48 to $HKD78 and -  as many are a meal in themselves - I think they are marked at competitive prices and well worth your hard earned dolla.
If you do pop into the ifc store, my gorgeous friend and all round awesome human being, Aisling Cotter, is the Manager and pretty much lives and breathes Genie. She is really passionate about the new venture and has all the information about their variety of cleansing options and packages.
Hong Kongers: there has never been a better time to go green!
ifc mall
Shop 2096
8 Finance Street
Central, Hong Kong