Wednesday, February 26, 2014

21 Days Later: The End of Juicing

And so ends the juicing adventure. It was actually kind of fun - we tried new fruits and vegetables, tons of new juice recipes, made homemade almond milk, and really found some inspiration in this challenge.
I started this challenge with a two-day juice cleanse, which really turned into a 1.5 day juice cleanse and half a day of fasting. I probably should have eased into this whole juicing thing a bit more. :-P We realized after we'd started that it probably would have made a whole lot more sense to do the cleanse at the end of the 21 days after our palates were better adjusted. Oh, well; I tried and learned.  We leaned on The Juice Generation for guidance and nearly all of our recipes.

After those challenging 2 days, we substituted one meal a day with a juice. For me, this was 90% breakfast and the rest being lunch. For Francisco, this was probably the exact opposite. He does heavier workouts in the morning, so he really looks forward to a protein-heavy breakfast to power him through the morning.  We learned that a little fruit generally goes a long way. Fruit definitely enhances the flavor of your juice, because frankly, too many greens just taste like dirt. But fruit has a lot of sugar, so you want to make sure your drinks are fairly well-balanced between fruits and veggies. 

Overall, this was a huge reminder as to how many nutrients are likely missing from my diet on a regular basis. Juicing can make it so easy to get all those recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies into one cup in their prime form for the body to most easily absorb all of the nutrients. 

After the cleanse, I saw a decline in my weight of five pounds. Once I went back to eating normally with just a single juice a day, I did see the scale creep back up. And then back down again as I tried to adopt healthier habits. I weighed in this morning, and my cumulative weight loss from day 0 is 5.4 pounds. But since your weight can fluctuate so much, I also calculated the difference between my average YTD weight and my average weight the last three days of juicing, and this came to a loss of 3.1 pounds.  So, I'm happy to see some downward movement, and I hope this will inspire future healthy decisions. I have my 6-year anniversary in less than a month, so it would be great to feel better about myself by then!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


We picked up a dragonfruit during our last trip to Jungle Jim's. Also known as a pitaya, this bright pink fruit is really easy to prepare to eat.
You cut it in half and scoop out the flesh, which separates really easily. You can even use the shell as a serving bowl after you chop up the pitaya interior.  The texture is very similar to kiwi with the small edible black seeds, and the taste is very mild.
For my last juicing breakfast, I actually made a Phase 3 smoothie recipe. It called for a whole coconut, but I used half a coconut (liquid and meat) since I've learned that a whole coconut makes a whole lot of smoothie. I blended that with half a cup of dragonfruit and half a banana.
Really tasty!  It comes to about 280 calories for the recipe I made (dragonfruit: 90, coconut half: 135, banana half: 53).

Monday, February 24, 2014

An Ode to Pomegranates

Just one day left of juicing! Tomorrow will be my last juice of the 21 days challenge.  But like I've said, I hope to keep juicing a regular part of my diet. :) Just this past week, I found a new appreciation for pomegranates.  We've purchased them once before, and they were a pain and annoying to eat. The seeds are still a pain to extract, but when you juice them, yummy!
We used the water extraction method to get all the seeds out.  It's not hard, just a little time-consuming. 

These bright seeds juice up really easily for a nutrient packed drink chock full of potent antioxidants.
I juiced some collard greens, swiss chard, kale, green apple, blueberries, and pomegranate seeds and blended that with some acai to make an Antioxidant All-Star drink. I was a little worried about all the greens going into this one, but it was well-balanced.  A little brown with the green and the purple combination but tastier than it looked. :)
We enjoyed the pomegranate juice so much, we even decided to use it as the star ingredient in some weekend cocktails. We made delicious pomegranate margaritas using fresh pomegranate juice. We'd gone out to Jungle Jim's and purchased about a half-dozen, and my sweet husband dedicated himself to de-seeding all of them so we would have plenty on hand for drinks.  These were by far the best homemade margaritas I have had thus far!
Our next adventure involved a mangosteen. This also took some work to get into because of the thick outer shell.  It kind of resembled a white orange with a sweeter taste. 
It's always fun to try new foods or new found appreciation for old ones!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

Phase 3 of The Juice Generation includes instructions on how to create your own homemade raw nut milk. I was really excited to give this a try because I don't really like dairy milk. I'm an ovo-lacto vegetarian, so, yes, I do consume dairy products and I fricking love cheese...but not so much the cow milk.  I've found that cow's milk generally works best for recipes that call for milk, so we do buy it occasionally, but it can be a chore to try and finish that milk before it goes bad.

It actually turned out to be pretty simple to make our own almond milk. You start by soaking 1 cup of raw almonds in a bowl of water for 8-12 hours.
Drain nuts and toss the soaking water, then place the nuts in a blender with 5 cups of filtered water.  You can vary the ratio of nuts to water depending on your personal preferences.
Blend until you see the nuts pulverize and the liquid turn creamy white.
Place a nut milk bag over the sides of a bowl, and pour the liquid slowly in. Lift the bag up, pull the drawstrings tight, and twist and squeeze to extract all the milk. You can store this in a glass jar for for 3-4 days.
We took it a step further to make Vanilla Almond Milk, so we added in a vanilla bean and six dates and gave it another good blend.

With the work all completed, the first order of business was to heat up some fresh almond milk for a mug of hot chocolate!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Entering the Final Phase of Juicing

We are officially in the final phase of juicing!  And we have some fun stuff to play with. :) Some of the products we'll be trying this week include pomegranates, mangosteen, collard greens, and swiss chard. I'm pretty certain I've never purchased collard greens before, and I don't think I've ever even touched a mangosteen
I've been juicing for lunch lately because I've had some yogurt that was due to expire, so I figured I'd eat breakfast and then drink lunch for a few days. This Zesty Green Smoothie included collard greens, green apples, carrots, and gingerroot. There was also supposed to be cucumber, but I belatedly realized this. :-P And there was also supposed to be cilantro, but I thought we already had some, so I hadn't put it on the list for our grocery trip last night. Instead we had parsley, so I substituted with that. 
I think it was still a pretty healthy drink despite my edits. :-P That is way more fresh produce than I would consume on a "normal" day. 
I think juicing for lunch has actually been working out great.  I had a bigger breakfast than I normally would - a Banana Bread English Muffin with some Cinnamon Raisin Granola Mix peanut butter and a little bit of jelly along with the last cup of Yoplait Peppermint Bark yogurt. After finishing my juice, I felt completely satiated for a few hours really.  I just had a couple of cookies for a snack, but I'm not even feeling terribly hungry. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Juice vs. Smoothies

In the past week, we played around with some new flavors, including Acai, Mangos, and Coconuts. It's next to impossible to find Acai fresh, so we picked up these unsweetened smoothie packs.
Phase 2 of The Juice Generation introduced a lot of new fresh produce smoothies, so it was kind of nice to give the juicer a break and bust out the blender. One of the first smoothies we tried was a Pacific Pineapple, which called for 1 freshly cracked young Thai coconut (water and meat), 1/4 cup pineapple, and 1/4 cup strawberries.  There is a ton of liquid in these coconuts! This ended up making 4 cups of smoothie, so Francisco and I were able to split this.
The smoothies definitely feel a lot more filling since there's added fat and some fiber. I found myself missing my morning juices on the few days I had breakfast smoothies. This Avocado Coconut juice really filled me up, but it just left me feeling a little heavier. So, I'd say it really depends on the person whether juicing or blending makes more sense for you. Half the time, I can be just fine with some Greek yogurt for breakfast, but if you need something heartier to power you through your day, a smoothie might work far better for you. It's been kind of fun to play around with new foods, and as long as I limit the kale to just a leaf per juice, I've been able to tolerate it just fine so far! ;-)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Keep On Juicin'

Still juicing strong!

Even gave kale another shot with this 'Get Ur Green On' juice. Kale, spinach, pineapple, apple, and a sprig of mint! There is definitely a more savory slant, but still some sweetness from the pineapple and a hint of tartness from the green apple.  The recipe called for a cup of kale, but I used a very loosely packed cup of single leaf to make sure I could get this whole juice down. :)
The husband weighed in with some comments this week, saying that he's found it surprisingly easy to replace lunch with juice. He's been regularly juicing for lunch, while I juice for breakfast.  He does have a pear or apple for a pre- or post-lunch snack, but he's doing really well. It can be a little psychologically challenging, but he hasn't found it too physically difficult to trade in his normal lunch for a juice.