Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ramblings on Juicing

You know what's good? Food you can chew! I decided to stop fighting my instincts and start incorporating more food into my days of juicing. So yesterday I had my banana and bit of avocado after I got home from work, before dinner juice. After dinner, I had a couple bites of canned cannellini beans. Perhaps not the highest of culinary escapades, but my god those beans tasted fantastic.

Then there was today. After breakfast juice, I ate half a sumo mandarin, and made a little plate of sweet brown rice with beans, some avocado, tahini cashew dressing I made right before we bought the juicer, and a splash of Papalote roasted tomato salsa (which, by the way, is the most amazing salsa I've ever put in my mouth, for reals). It was a perfect tiny meal, and I followed it the rest of the day with broth I made from last night's dinner juice pulp. After dinner juice tonight I had a few raw cashews and almonds. The amount of real food I actually ate was fairly tiny, but it did feel strangely like I basically gorged myself.

I realize this has gone from blog to food diary, so allow me to steer us back onto the road. Let's talk hoe to juice and why. You should be buying lots and lots of greens, as they are the most nutrient-dense vegetables and are, in essence, a miracle food. In five days, wifey and I have probably gone through a dozen bunches of greens, including kale, chard, and collards. That doesn't include the spinach, cabbage, or beet greens.

By the way, bunched beets are probably the best deal you can find in the produce department. At Whole Foods, one bunch of organic beets is $1.99, and usually you can find a bunch with three huge or four medium beets, with a gorgeous mane of red-blooded greens the size of your typical bunch of kale. Do you realize how happy that makes me? It's like a two-for-one. We've gone through about three or four of these beet bunches. Beets are super sweet and put out a good amount of juice, turn your juice blood red (unless it's a golden beet, still delish without the dramatic flair of color), and the greens of red beets put out red juice as well. If your pee turns red after eating or drinking beets (a condition called beeturia, no joke), you may have an iron deficiency. Fun fact, before I started juicing I used to have beeturia, but it hasn't happened since day one, even though I'm drinking one or two beets a day. That's because I'm consuming so many dark leafy greens--and adding citrus to the greens juice helps your body absorb more iron, so the lemon, kiwi, or oranges have a role to play beyond just being delicious.

The other amazing produce deal is the five pound bag of carrots for under five bucks. We're on our second bag, because carrot juice is amazing and delicious and we juice at least a couple carrots in every juice. Some folks say carrot juice can cure cancer. I also just read that drinking it can solve symptoms of vitamin A deficiency like night blindness, which wifey has, so I'm curious to see if hers goes away after juicing.

Now that I'm essentially a juicing expert (kidding, but I'm really good at it right?), I need to add a workout into the mix. I sometimes run with my dogs on their walks, have a job that usually keeps me on my feet at least six hours a day, and I'm one of those nervous energy types who can't sit still for very long. That's about all I've got. It would be tragic if I end up gaining weight when this juice fast (as it were) ends. Yes, I know I'm playing it fast and loose with the word tragic, but I'm so looking forward to getting back to the weight I was at my wedding, and not be skinny because planning a wedding is harrowingly stressful... but because I'm healthy. Woot.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day Three

Today marks my third full day of juicing, a little milestone for me. I planned to do at least three days, see how I felt, and consider my options. Despite a headache yesterday and the evening cravings (which I recognize as NOT hunger due to the fact that my stomach has not rumbled once on this juice fast...!), I feel fine overall and am going to juice again tomorrow. Woot! Check out the gorgeous ingredients that composed our dinner tonight. We used five types of greens (dino kale, chard, beet greens, spinach and cabbage), carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, beet, red pepper, celery, apple, and cucumber. I may even be forgetting a thing or two. It was the most delicious juice wifey has made yet.

Today I had a mostly fruit juice for breakfast, and brought a juice to work again for lunch. I drank that by 11:30 or so (stressful morning--does chugging my juice early count as stress eating?), so I had an iced goji berry green tea on my actual lunch break at 1. We had dinner around 6 and I was mildly hungry at that point, but certainly not ready to kill anyone for a Klondike bar or anything.

I weighed in at 125.6 tonight, a couple hours after my snack of a quarter of an avocado and lots of water. Giving myself the leeway to eat something at night has allowed me to get a little extra nutrition (I think the healthy fats are keeping me sane, to be quite honest) and let me feel that I'm not depriving myself. I actually feel pretty great and that with every juice, I am treating my body to something it needs, and has been craving. And my body has thanked me today by not giving me any more stomach issues, thank you god.

Work comes early tomorrow, so for now I must sleep.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Actually, I cheated last night too, but I cheated more today, hence the title.

After a good strong day of juicing, and a minor headache that felt major because I so rarely get headaches (which I cured with a glass of iced twig tea, low in caffeine but with enough of it to take the edge off), I felt good about this juice fast. I had made two juices this morning, one for breakfast and one to take to work for my lunch. Then, soon after my dinner juice made by wifey--a tomatoey, celery-y, beety and greeny glass of tastiness--I had some sort of intestinal issue. An hour later, again.

I shall spare you the details, as I hope to keep this blog classy.

I will add that I've lost six pounds since the night of my first juice two days ago. I weighed in at 127.6 tonight. Now, my weight normally fluctuates a few pounds anyway, but I do feel I'm being cleansed. For sure. Maybe I've even lost a real pound or two.

I decided that I've been doing super great doing just juice for over two days straight (with a few bites of avocado last night, s'what?), and I was so craving something sweet and creamy. So I ate the other half of the avocado and a banana. They were so delicious.

If you tell me that eating a couple pieces of fresh organic produce during a cleanse is wrong, I will tell you that YOU'RE wrong, friend! I googled it. Bananas and avocados are actually the two fruits that can help make a juice fast safer for people with conditions like diabetes, because they are slow to digest and help stabilize your blood sugar. I don't have any conditions, but that sounds good enough to me.

I do feel as though I've eaten a fairly heavy meal right now, though perhaps those slow-digesting fruits will ease up the effects of this fast on my gut. I don't plan on cheating all the time, because after all, I want this fast to kick-start my metabolism and stabilize my mood, as well as detoxify my body. But if I do, I'm proud of myself for choosing healthy choices that, frankly, would be awful for juicing. Which makes me brilliant, really, for rounding out my juice diet! Like what I did there? I made my puny willpower sound like science.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Juicing Up, Day One

Today I juiced, but that's not all. In true Roots and Leaves form, I made the most of juicing. And, ladies and gentlemen, it was good. I think I may be able to do this for longer than three days if I give myself time to juice, prep for the day, and mix up the variety so I'm not bored. Here's a rundown of today:

Breakfast juice: orange, 2 apples, 2 carrots, 2 kiwis

I learned a fast lesson on the truth of how quickly juices get absorbed into your system. On the way to work a couple hours after breakfast, I drank a green tea. Green tea and I are not friends on an empty stomach, but today I figured the juice would provide the necessary stomach buffer. Not so. I felt like I might hurl any second as I attempted to find a parking spot. It took almost an hour for the nausea to dissipate. Will stick to herbal or puerh from now on.

Lunch, drank throughout the day: Broth. Yes, that's right. I made broth with the veggie pulp from last night's juice. Took about a liter to work in a water bottle and chugged it all day long.

Dinner juice: a bit of broccoli, a parsnip, 2 carrots, 1/2 bunch of dino kale, a beet, 2 small sweet potatoes, and a zucchini. So good.

After dinner: A quarter of an avocado (I'm only human, for reals, people), and more broth! I made more and drank the hell out of it.

And the icing on the cake, I took more of the veggie pulp from dinner (that juicer makes a ton of pulp!), whipped up a flour mix of rices, wheatberries, flax seeds, nutritional yeast, and lentils in the Vita-Mix, and made fresh homemade dog treats. My dogs went nuts, which always validates my love for them instead of making me feel like a crazy dog lady. The pups also enjoy getting snacks of veggie pulp by itself.

Of course, any pulp we didn't use, the cooked pulp from the broths, and all the peels from oranges, et al, went straight to the compost bin. Composting FTW! I would like to experiment more with using up all that pulp, though. There's just so much.

I felt fine all day, maybe even a little happier than usual. Of course, getting compliments on my hair at work is great, so it could be that. As far as hunger goes, I felt satiated all day, until after dinner. Thinking of all the things I would normally have reached for (soy yogurt, chips and salsa, candy or cookies), I realize it's all JUNK and that I'm probably not actually hungry or craving nutrients. I'm simply craving the empty calories (sugars, salt and carbs) I usually fill up on in the couple hours before bed. If I can break that cycle--wow. I'm golden.

Time for bed. More updates soon!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Juice is Loose

The last couple months have been a bit rough. Maybe it's the post-holiday lull, maybe it's winter, maybe it's that I haven't had my hair done in over six months. (Yes, the fact that I feel like an overgrown weed has taken over my head definitely takes its toll on my psyche.) I get momentarily inspired, then bogged down once again by something or other. One step forward, two steps back.

One step forward was watching the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. In the film, Joe Cross treks across America, juicing his way from New York to California, his end goal not only to lose weight and rebalance his life and health, but to actually cure the rare auto-immune disorder that had plagued him for eight years. During his 60 day juice fast, he meets as many people as he can, telling them about juicing and a nutritarian diet and how it equates to a longer, happier and healthier life. The film is especially inspiring as he meets a trucker with the same rare condition he suffers from, who reaches out to him for help. It ends up being a life-changing meeting, as this man also takes on the juice fast challenge and turns his life and health completely around.

I literally had to pause the movie so I could jump into the kitchen and make myself a green smoothie--wishing I had a juicer the whole time. Man! I love my Vita-Mix, don't get me wrong. In fact, it was the first of my dream appliance trifecta that we acquired and we use it almost daily. But watching these people juice their way to nirvana makes you wish you can have what they're having, When Harry Met Sally style. In fact, I watched it twice in a couple days.

I figured that the last thing I needed to do was drop a couple hundos on an appliance we may not end up using. I had a brief flash of inspiration to ask some neighbors to go in on a juicer with me, maybe keep it in the bike lounge of our building, but realized that there was no place to clean it. I was pretty bummed that juicing was not in the cards at the present. Falling back to the grind and feeling defeated.

One step forward. Wifey and I decided together to do our own sort of cleanse. Ironically, we started the day after Mardi Gras, despite the fact that we are neither Catholic nor religious. Essentially we are giving up alcohol as well as going back to a low-fat nutritarian vegan diet... for Lent. Or until our trip to Boston at the end of April, whatevs. Getting our groove back, getting our balance back, losing some weight and getting our happy on are the main objectives here.

Then, the day after we started our no-drinking, nutrient-dense extravaganza, wifey watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead with me. Alas! She had the same epiphanous experience I had the first time I watched it. But wifey goes for the gold with gusto. She wanted to get the juicer. Elated, I immediately did some research and found that the machine featured in the film, Breville Juice Fountain model JE-98XL in case you were wondering, was in stock at the Bed Bath and Beyond down the street. Score. 20% off coupon? Check, double score. We were in business for a lot less scrill than I'd imagined.

I procured the machine today, as well as what must have been fifty pounds of fresh produce (or at least it felt that way carrying my one very full grocery bag to the car in on hand while juggling a whole pineapple and my purse in the other. The photo below is my bounty on the checkout belt at the store.) After that, I got my haircut. I was feeling really pretty great about life, and much cuter myself to boot. Wifey got home and we ate some leftover vegan chili and curried wheatberry salad, watched deleted scenes from FS&ND, and started to fall asleep on the couch. I woke up from my brief doze and looked warily at the Breville, which sat on the counter, mocking us.

I had a moment of horror that this was our two steps back. With over one hundred pounds of produce (so it seemed) in our fridge ready to rot, our juicer out of the box but not yet fully assembled, I feared that we would not jump into this as readily as we thought.

I couldn't let that happen. Not when we'd come so close.

So at 9 PM, I finished assembling the machine and brought out some veggies. Screw it. Juicy nightcap. And so I juiced. A beet, two carrots, most of a parsnip, some cabbage, a bit of broccoli, a bunch of kale, and half a cucumber. It made almost three cups of juice, sweet and earthy from the root vegetables, and such a deep beety red it looked like blood. We drank it from stemless wine glasses. I saved the pulp, mostly dry except for the kale and broccoli--I must find tips for getting more juice out of greens--and will make broth with it tomorrow.

And so our juice fast begins in earnest tomorrow. I hope that armed with inspiration, and a crapload of nutrients, we won't fall two steps back this time. I'm ready to feel good again. I am doing at least three days of the juice fast. Wifey plans on doing at least ten. After that, we'll be trying to juice at least one meal a day until May, a feat not too difficult as we already usually blend a smoothie most mornings in the Vita-Mix. It's no 60 days, but we'll see how it goes and do longer if we feel good about it.

My weight tonight was 133.4. I plan on documenting our little adventure here, so stayed tuned.