Jumpstart January - 2024 Cleanse: María Felicia's Daily Online Journal - The North County Moms

Jumpstart January and follow along as I jump into my 12th annual 21-day January cleanse!

This year’s cleanse is going to be fun because I get nutritionist’s Francesca Orlando’s take on my three-week journey. Through our collaboration, I’ll be sharing Francesca’s nutritional pointers on the foods I eat, filled with info for our interested readers to apply to their own multi-week cleanses.

I’m pleased to bring you Francesca’s advice, as a devoted functional and integrative scientist who runs the nutritional practice Healthful Living SD!

Here’s to a healthy, happy cleanse season… and daily sips of warm green tea!

2024 New Year Cleanse: 1-Day Water Fast


Much like last year, I am eagerly kicking off this 2024 annual cleanse with a single day water fast.

Why a water fast when restriction in one form or another is the name of the game with every cleanse?

This cleanse, like my 11 previous ones, comes at a crucial post-holiday time of year. The pressure of shopping, organizing, celebrating and wrapping (Yes, even the wrapping; it’s a fun yet stressful task that seems endless in our a family of five) alters my daily way of life and thus my dietary schedule. Eating and drinking with a lot less discretion, leaves me feeling bloated and uncomfortable in my own skin.

Maria’s Day 1 Entry continues here!

I am a fan of water fasting when appropriate, and I have personally used water fasting since my early 20s. My most extended water fast was a 7-day fast; it was an incredible experience physiologically and spiritually.

Water fasting has been practiced for thousands of years for physical and spiritual reasons. All religions have historically used water fasting to purify and detoxify the body.

To this day, it is believed to offer several health benefits. Studies show that it can promote autophagy, a cellular repair process, and may aid in weight loss. Intermittent fasting, including water fasting, can also positively affect metabolism and longevity.

Francesca’s Review continues here!


2024 New Year Cleanse: Day 2 – Green Tea


The water is in the bag. Today is a new day. After a successful one-day water fast, I now get to graduate to flavor with a little dose of caffeine. Yes, I get to have caffeine (the green tea kind) during my 21-day cleanse. Yes!

And although I’m still drinking a ton of water, pouring my first cup well before the crack of dawn with billowing steam from a pour that saturates the tea leaves, it feels so good to say hello to Day 2!

What is it about green tea on a cleanse with its magical properties that soothe the mind and spirit and benefit the body?

There’s a natural yet much milder caffeine boost I experience with my first cup. As I discuss in a previous post, on non-cleanse days, I’m a morning coffee drinker and lean into the kick I get from just a portion of my first cup of black.

Maria’s Day 2 Entry continues here!

I love this post because green tea is a true superfood, renowned for its numerous health benefits, and one that can be easily incorporated into a diet. Green tea is rich in antioxidant compounds, particularly catechins like EGCG, that promote cellular health and are a natural detoxifier.

Green tea can be a valuable addition to detox and calorie-restricted diets due to its minimal calorie content while providing a gentle energy boost from caffeine.

Francesca’s Review continues here!


2024 New Year Cleanse: Day 3 – Dates & Sunflower Seeds


My date with seeds and dates proved a love affair the minute I opened a fresh container of Medjools and saw these brown, oval-shaped jewels.

Each one was fresh,  and not a single one in the bunch had visible dried out fracture lines. (If you eat dates as often as I do, you’ll know what I mean. Check out my post from last year for more.) I breathe a sigh of relief when opening the lid and get confirmation of their freshness with just a casual glance. In fact, these are so fresh they almost plump back to form when pressed with a finger.

Maria’s Day 3 Entry continues here!

Dates are nature’s candy and give us a quick energy boost. They also have some excellent fiber, as well as essential minerals like potassium and magnesium, that are necessary for muscle function, among others. Dates and sunflower seeds make for a nutritious, delicious snack.

Francesca’s Review continues here!


New Year Cleanse: Day 4 — Keen on Kale


I think the world is divided into those who love kale and those who detest it. I’m most definitely a card-carrying member of the former group! Raw or cooked, but especially raw, with just the right amount of olive oil, sprinkled with thinly sliced red onion, sea salt and the juice of a couple of squeezed ripe lemons, and you’re in for a mouthful of flavor, texture and yes chewing.

However, you’d be surprised how pliable these Lacinato greens can get with the right amount of olive oil and lemon juice. (Check out my kale post from last year for my favorite Lacinato Kale Salad recipe.)

Maria’s Day 4 Entry continues here!

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse and a favorite of mine as well. Packed with vitamins A, C, and K and minerals like calcium and iron, kale offers a diverse range of essential nutrients. Its high fiber content supports digestive health and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and flavonoids, contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Francesca’s Review continues here!


New Year Cleanse: Day 5 — Brown Rice Boost


The boost is real! I rely on brown rice to energize me during my cleanses.

It also warms my insides and is always a nice change of pace given the amount of raw veggies I consume during these three weeks.

Like most, if not all, of the foods I eat during these 21-days, brown rice is often my go-to when not cleansing, too.

I talk more about this essential cleanse carb in my post from last year.


Maria’s Day 5 Entry continues here!

Brown rice, a staple in many cuisines, is a nutritional gem that aligns well with the principles of integrative nutrition.

Unlike white rice, brown rice retains its bran and germ layers, making it a whole grain rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This intact structure contributes to its slower digestion, promoting steadier blood sugar levels and sustaining energy release.

Francesca’s brown rice healthful facts continue here!


New Year Cleanse: Day 6 — Succulent Grilled Salmon


I love salmon many ways, poached, smoked, or occasionally raw (as in sushi). But my preferred mode of consumption is definitely grilled.

Thanks to our family chef, aka my husband, viz. ‘amateur’ Chef Danny K, I get to enjoy this flavorful fish often since Danny has regular dates his Weber grill. (Don’t ask. It’s a Chicago thing.) He cooks freshly cut salmon filets — Icelandic, Atlantic, or  Wild Alaskan King Salmon over the open flames and truly, there is nothing like it!

 Check out my salmon post from last year to discover more.

Maria’s Day 6 Entry continues here!

Salmon is a favorite nutrient-dense fish because it offers many health benefits. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, that promote an optimal lipid profile and reduce
inflammation, making salmon very beneficial for the cardiovascular system. These essential fatty acids also play a crucial role in cognitive function, supporting brain health.

Francesca’s salient salmon insights continue here!


New Year Cleanse: Day 7 — Bodacious Broccoli


It’s bold. It’s vibrant. It’s tasty, filling, and nutritious. It’s one bodacious dark green vegetable! I enjoy it raw or cooked. On the cleanse or off, it’s a staple of my diet that my whole family enjoys. Broccoli gets a bad rap in the taste department when it’s not cooked properly. Check out my cleanse notes and link to the rest of my Day 7 post for broccoli cooking tips to retain flavor and nutrients.


Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is a nutritional powerhouse with numerous health benefits. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, broccoli supports overall health. Its high fiber content aids digestion and promotes a healthy gut microbiome, contributing to optimal gastrointestinal function.

Francesca’s broccoli facts continue here!


New Year Cleanse: Day 8 — Awesome Almond Butter


On my 21-day cleanse, my love of peanut butter shifts to a fascination with almond butter. While I prefer PB over AB, when I’ve restricted consumption of certain foods (peanut butter falls into that category during my cleanse), I gravitate to almond butter as a fun option. Continue reading this year’s post, here. Then check out my almond butter post from last year to dig deeper. 


Almond butter is a favorite snack food at my house, too! Packed with monounsaturated fats, it supports heart health by promoting healthy cholesterol levels. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, contributes to skin health and protects cells from oxidative damage. Almond butter has some protein, making it a good addition for those seeking plant-based protein alternatives.

Francesca’s almond butter facts continue here!


New Year Cleanse: Day 9 — Carrot & Celery Crunch Duo


When I clean and cut carrot and celery sticks, I’m reminded of my childhood. We ate these popular crudité essentials often when I was a kid. I learned early that raw veggies sometimes make the best snacks.

Yesterday, I shared my appreciation of almond butter while cleansing. Well, these vegetable sticks often serve as the foundation of my almond butter spread. It’s so easy to plaster it across the length of each stick. Check out more on today’s crunch-duo post!

Then take a peek at my carrot and celery post from last year.

I love crunchy snacks, and carrots and celery sticks are not only uber crunchy, but they also offer a variety of health benefits. Carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, essential for maintaining healthy vision, skin, and immune function. The antioxidants in carrots also reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

Francesca’s carrot and celery facts continue here!


New Year Cleanse: Day 10 — Yes! It’s Nutritional Yeast.


Nutritional yeast is fun to have around, on or off the cleanse. On the cleanse, I use it as a parmesan cheese-like substitute. It’s umami flavor (a savory taste profile) is unique if not slightly addictive. 

One of the bonuses of nutritional yeast, is it’s versatility. “Nooch” (nutritional yeast’s nickname) has the ability to give you a sense that you’re eating something other than what’s actually in your mouth. Plus, on top of it all, as the name implies, nutritional yeast is packed with nutrients. More on that can be found here and below from an excellent nutritionist. Then check out my post from last year.


Nutritional yeast is a versatile and nutrient-rich food often used in plant-based diets. It is an excellent source of B vitamins, including B12, which are crucial for energy metabolism and nervous system function.

With its savory and cheese-like flavor, nutritional yeast serves as a flavorful seasoning or topping, enhancing the taste of various dishes. Rich in protein and fiber, it supports satiety and muscle maintenance.

Francesca’s nutritional yeast nutrient highlights continue, here.


New Year Cleanse: Day 11 — Munching on Mango


Munching on fresh and dried mango is a sweet cleanse treat.  However, your body will appreciate dried mango best in limited quantities. Nonetheless, I like dried mango on the cleanse because it’s a quick snack; no washing, peeling, or cutting necessary. My fascination with dried mango, continues here.

To me, all dried mango is not equal. Check out my dried mango post from last year to find out which brand I’m partial to having tried a variety through the years.

Maria’s Day 11 Entry continues!

Dried mango is delicious and offers a concentrated burst of tropical flavor and several nutritional benefits. Dried mango is rich in vitamins A and C, and it has some dietary fiber that aids in digestion.

However, please consume dried mango in moderation as it has a concentrated sugar content, making it a pre-workout snack. Read more about Francesca’s dried mango nutritional details!


New Year Cleanse: Day 12 — Awe-inspiring Artichokes


This is definitely a vegetable I seek out to add to my menu whether cleansing or just eating consciously with healthy goals in mind. I love them steamed. It’s actually a fun eating activity to scrape the individual bracts (or petals) with my teeth to enjoy the plump artichoke at the base of each section. Read more.

Check out my artichoke blog post from last year!

Maria’s Day 12 Entry continues!

Artichokes are a Roman food par excellence! I must have been 5 or 6 years old when my grandma started teaching me how to prepare artichokes properly.

Artichokes are not only delicious but also have numerous health benefits. They are rich in prebiotic fiber that feeds the healthy gut bacteria, supporting digestion and elimination.

Learn more about the healthy nutrients in artichokes!

New Year Cleanse: Day 13 — Give it up for Grilled Chicken!


Grilled chicken lives at the heart of my family’s meat consumption. Rarely do we eat red meat. Beef is not in our family’s repertoire at all. Other than chicken, fish and seafood reign supreme! Maria’s Day 13 Entry continues!

Check out my grilled chicken blog post from last year!


Grilled chicken, a popular and versatile protein choice, offers a range of nutritional benefits. Rich in high-quality protein, it supports muscle development, repair, and maintenance. Grilling imparts a delicious smoky flavor without adding excessive fats, making it a lean option for hypocaloric diets.

More about this healthy protein!

New Year Cleanse: Day 14 — The All-Purpose Avocado


On or off the cleanse, I can find a way to use avocado in a variety of dishes for every meal. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this versatile fruit can be used throughout the day to make main courses and snacks more interesting.

Want to break up meal monotony? Add avocado! Maria’s Day 14 Entry continues!

Check out my avocado blog post from last year!


Avocado is another nutrient-dense food at my house. It is packed with healthy monounsaturated fats that promote heart health by helping to lower harmful cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular well-being.

This fruit is a good source of potassium, which is essential for blood pressure regulation and overall cardiovascular function. Avocados are a good source of dietary fiber.

More about this versatile fruit!

New Year Cleanse: Day 15 — Beneficial Blueberries and Blackberries


I love waking up my mouth with these black and blue beauties! And on the cleanse, it’s so much fun to fill my mouth with a blast of sweet, juicy, and nutrient-rich goodness, a handful at a time.

One of my favorite ways to appreciate these recently plucked berries is enjoying them in a bowl of quinoa. Check out my berry post from last year to see how I create my Blue-and-Blackberry Breakfast Quinoa!

Day 15 Entry continues!

Check out my berry blog post from last year!


Blueberries and blackberries, vibrant and flavorful berries, are delicious and nutritious. Both berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which contribute to their deep colors and have been linked to various health benefits. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting overall well-being.

More about berry goodness!

New Year Cleanse: Day 16 — All in for Almond Milk​


Almond milk has become a favorite cleanse beverage of mine through the years. As a regular skim milk drinker, it’s easy to recognize the taste similarities these two cereal complements share.

Check out my almond milk post from last year for my homemade almond milk recipe!

Day 16 Entry continues!

Check out my almond milk blog post from last year!


Almond milk is low in calories and saturated fats, which suits those lactose intolerant and those seeking a lighter option for weight management.

It is naturally lactose-free and a good alternative for individuals with lactose intolerance or those following a vegan diet.



New Year Cleanse: Day 17 — Quick-Cooking, Quality Quinoa


This healthy grain-like seed is light in texture and pleasantly mild in taste.

Quinoa is as versatile as brown rice. I’ll it eat at breakfast, lunch, or at dinner. As a morning meal, I often dress it up as a warmed cereal or porridge with berries. It’s my Blue-and-Blackberry Breakfast Quinoa!

Day 17 Entry continues!

Check out my quinoa blog post from last year!

Quinoa is a nutrient-rich grain with various health benefits. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent plant-based protein source. This ancient grain is rich in dietary fiber, promoting digestion and elimination and supporting a healthy gut microbiome. It is also gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.

Read more about the quinoa nutrition profile!

New Year Cleanse: Day 18 — Boastful About Brussels Sprouts


Brussels sprouts are one of the most maligned vegetables out there (at least they used to be). I’m not sure why, but I think it originated from days gone by when the trend was to hard boil and overcook all things green.

However you slice it, overcooking vegetables is never a good idea, especially if you’re in it for the flavor…

Day 18 Entry continues!

Check out my Brussels sprouts blog post from last year!

Brussels sprouts are delicious cruciferous vegetables (when prepared correctly) that offer many health benefits. Rich in fiber, these mini-cabbages support digestive health by promoting
elimination and supporting a healthy gut microbiome. Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, which support immune function, collagen synthesis, and bone health.

Read more about Brussels sprouts’ nutrition profile!

New Year Cleanse: Day 19 — Hooray for Halibut


Halibut is my fish of choice, in rotation with a meal comprised of salmon. I love halibut’s flaky white tenderness.

Its ability to pair seamlessly with many side dishes is key when the family has opposing requests to complement the featured fish of the meal. Its mild flavor tends not to offend even the pickiest fish avoiders.

Day 19 Entry continues!

Check out my halibut blog post from last year!

I grew up eating halibut weekly, which is still my favorite fish. It is lean and has a mild flavor, which makes it a delicious addition to meals and offers numerous health benefits. Rich in high-quality protein, halibut supports muscle development, repair, and overall body maintenance.

Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, which contribute to heart health by reducing inflammation and supporting optimal lipid profiles. 

Read more about the all around goodness of halibut!

New Year Cleanse: Day 20 — Salad or Sauteed, Select Spinach


I’m easy when it comes to spinach. I love the baby leaves as a salad, sauteed with mushrooms and onion, or as a fortified, tasteless (which is good!) boost in my protein smoothie.

It’s definitely its delicate texture, but powerful nutritional punch, that keeps me coming back for more of Popeye’s favorite!

Day 20 Entry continues!

Check out my spinach blog post from last year!

Spinach, a leafy green vegetable, is a nutritional powerhouse offering many health benefits. Packed with vitamins and minerals, spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, promoting bone health and blood clotting. It is also rich in vitamins A and C, supporting immune function, skin health, and vision.

The abundance of iron in spinach contributes to oxygen transport in the blood and prevents iron-deficiency anemia.

Francesca’s spinach exploration continues here!

New Year Cleanse: Day 21 — Big, Bold Beets!


Beetroot, or more commonly “beets”, are big and bold and RED!

Their color is so intense that beet juice is an effective natural food coloring! If you’ve ever sliced a beet you’re aware of the intensity of its color that stains fingers, nails, and hand-wiped aprons!

Day 21 Entry continues!


Beets are one of my favorite root vegetables. They are not only delicious, but oh-so-good for you! They provide a good amount of dietary fiber and are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and folate.
Some studies suggest that beets may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


Francesca explores more about the boldness of beets, here!

Thanks for exploring The North County Moms’ Jumpstart January 2024 Cleanse Journal!

If you’d like get in touch with either Maria or Francesca, please contact Maria here, or email her: [email protected] | To reach Francesca, please contact her here, or email her: [email protected]

Happy Cleanse Season!




Written by Maria Felicia Kelley
Maria Felicia Kelley is not a medical doctor. The cleanse and fasting benefits she discusses in this post are derived from her own experiences and observations. Individuals should consult their own healthcare providers when eliminating foods from their diets.
@thenorthcountymoms | @1MariaFelicia 
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