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How Our Post-Super Bowl Cleanse (And Gr8nola) Started

 Tank & Erica Williams Cleanse
Tank & Erica Williams Cleanse

My husband Tank and I are both former Stanford Athletes. I competed at the 2000 and 2004 US Olympic Swimming Trials, and Tank played in the NFL from 2002-2009. Even though we are well past our heydays, we are still very active and try to live a clean & healthy lifestyle per the 80/20 rule.

However, the concept of "clean & healthy eating" didn't come as a given during our athletic careers. Training 4+ hours a day allowed us to eat whatever and however much we wanted (oh, the glory years...). As soon as we retired from our respective sports, we both gained ~15-20 pounds within a year since our training went to zero while our appetites and eating habits stayed the same.

When we thought we were "eating healthy", our diets consisted of Campbell's Chunky Soup, 100-cal Oreo snacks and Fiber One bars. It wasn't until 2009 when Tank moved out to California after his playing days, and we met our dear friend Brandi who introduced us to "The Cleanse". Our first time doing the cleanse was in 2010, and we loved the process and how we felt so much—both physically and mentally—that we've made it an annual tradition to tackle it for at least a month after every Super Bowl.

So what's the cleanse?

Our cleanse simply focuses on eating whole, minimally processed & natural foods. Are there restrictions? Hell yea! But is it doable? Yes! It's not a juice fad nor meant to be a quick fix. Above all, it taught us that healthy eating CAN be a lifestyle, and you can still enjoy eating really delicious food, too (like gr8nola...shameless plug :).

In a nutshell, it's like the paleo diet but includes non-gluten carbs sources like rice, quinoa, oats and beans. (If you’re not familiar with paleo, check out this easy-to-follow flow chart). Below are some high-level guidelines (Note: this is the adapted, short version to keep things simple—here is a more detailed post for more info):

  • Foods to avoid: gluten (wheat, rye, barley), dairy, alcohol, caffeine (green tea ok), processed or fried foods, GMOs (canola, soy, corn, etc.), refined sugars, artificial sweeteners
  • Foods that are gr8: Animal proteins (free-range, wild-caught, organic; skip the bacon and ribs), eggs, all fruits and veggies, non-dairy milks or yogurts/cheeses, nuts, non-gluten grains (rice, oats, quinoa), beans, non-GMO oils (coconut oil, olive oil, etc.), honey, palm/coconut sugar, monk fruit  extact 

What's the cleanse have to do with gr8nola?

It was our 3rd year doing the cleanse and Tank and I were craving a crunchy, carby, sweet snack that wasn’t fruit. I was inspired to create my own "cleanse-friendly" granola recipe since most others have refined sugar and GMO oils. I used organic virgin coconut oil (which actually converts into energy for the body) and stevia instead of adding cane or brown sugar. My granola instantly became our favorite snack—on and off the cleanse—and I was making it year-round for family and friends. In 2013, I officially launched gr8nola at a local farmers' market, and the rest is [her]story! :)