Monday, May 27, 2013

Elias's Morning Juice Recipe & $1 Items Fun4Kiddos

Well it's no secret that Elias has become really obsessed with making his own juice.  I'm not sure if that's because he has a genuine love for cooking/creating tastes or because he's so particular about his own food!  He doesn't even like eating/drinking something unless he was there to witness it being made --he's like a paranoid little spy or something lol.  Because of this love of juicing, we do it at least 3 times a day together.  The first juice he has is the same recipe each day.  Good thing too because it's hard to write down these juice recipes when it's usually a little of this, a little of that!  We've gotten so used to this one in the morning I've been able to put actually put it into the blog.

#1-The Recipe!

This recipe is done first because it undoubtedly has the most calories and sugars (if there's any time during the day that it's best to consume the most calories, carbs and/or sugars, it's in the morning!) but of course these are natural, plant-based carbohydrates.  Don't discount those fruit sugars though!  They are still high in calories and if your child is at risk for being obese or has diabetes, tweak the recipe a bit to include lower-carbohydrate fruits.  This recipe includes low-carb fruits/vegetables as well as high, so it's decently-balanced, but as someone who tries to keep off weight, I'll put an asterisk next to the fruits that should be used in limited amounts to reduce carbohydrate-intake.  If your child is not at risk for obesity or has healthy blood sugar, don't worry about these fruits.  I've always been told if your child is getting healthy calories and isn't at risk for being overweight, don't count those silly little numbers!  Elias is certainly not in any danger of becoming a little husky, we have quite the opposite problem :P  It's in the genes.  I was wiry and short as a kid, my mother was wiry and short, and all the way to my great-great grandmother.  We're just a pack of short, skinnies until we hit our 30s.  You will know better than I do what your child should or shouldn't eat, so always take your motherly instincts into account when making recipes with your little girl or boy!

Morning Burst-o-Fruit

-1 medium-sized Gala, Braeburn, Jazz or any other crisp/sweet apple*
-5 ice cream scoops of fresh watermelon
-20 large, dark or black grapes (the darker the grape, the more polyphenols/phytonutrients, read "Drink a Rainbow" below for a link to why darker/more vibrant fruits/veggies are best!)*
-5 strawberries with tops sliced off
-Big 'ol fistful of baby spinach or baby kale (the "baby" varieties are sweeter/more tender)
-Large peeled, organic carrot (more on why organic carrots are important in an upcoming article)

Now you'd think that the order in which these go in isn't that important and while it's not essential that you follow this order, it does make it easier to get more juice because some of the fruits/vegetables clog the fine strainer inside the machine than others.  Also, getting juice from spinach is difficult unless you have what I call a "buffer fruit" on either side.  We start with the apple because these particular varieties of apples aren't very "mealy" so they tend to strain easily through the inner sieve; grapes come next because the skin --instead of clogging the strainer-- just falls into the back part of the juicer with other pulp discard.  Strawberries next because nearly all of the strawberry makes it into juice except, of course, the seeds.  Now, with the watermelon, we throw in 3 pieces but save two for the spinach.  After you've juiced the watermelon, place one piece of watermelon inside the chute then cram the fistful of spinach into the chute until tightly-packed, then place the second piece of watermelon on top.  Turn on the machine and use a tad bit more pressure to extract more juice instead of the spinach/kale leaves whiffing their way to the back of the machine instead! haha.  Again, this isn't totally necessary, but it does give you more juice from your spinach leaves.  Lastly comes the carrot which does surprisingly create a lot of pulp on the sieve and in the back chute of the juicer. You'll even see some more spinach juice come out!

It sounds horrible but it's really good.  Oh!  Here's a great tip --you know how on the infomercials the people just leave the machine on and keep throwing in fruits/vegetables?  Yeah, don't do that.  It won't mess up your machine, but it's not good for the machine's longevity and you'll probably get little spritzes here and there of juice to the face!  So here: turn off the machine between fruits and vegetables.  Plus, when your child is helping you make juice, he'll always get a pretty big kick out of turning the machine off and on for you!

Super-Cheap, Easy, & Fun way to get your kid to drink more juice

24 for $1?? What?! YAY-UH!
Well, it's "fun" for your child because anything made "kid size" is always more entertaining to them!  I'll tell you what I mean: You know those little plastic shot glasses you can find anywhere from Walmart to any $1 store?  Well they look like the picture and they're never usually more than $1.50.  Disposable, tiny, and you 
can find them in whatever color your child fancies the most!  Elias thinks it's funny to drink his juice by pouring numerous "shots" of his juice into his "baby cup" and drinking the whole thing that way.  This isn't an intro to college life, little ones just like things that make them feel big ie. tiny glasses :P

Crazy straws, funny-shaped ice cube trays, Luau cups, faux & real coconut cups, these are all things that will make your kid want to drink more "juicy" :)

Drink a rainbow!

Everyone knows it's healthier to eat darker, more vibrant fruits and veggies.  Read my article, The Rainbow Connection: A Nutritional Color Chart, about what certain colors in fruits and vegetables mean. ie. Orange: Generally means high in vitamin A & other carotenoids and vitamin C.  It's an easy-access, easy-to-understand chart to help you get the most out of shopping for fresh produce.  Bookmark it for your next grocery trip!

As always, just get your child involved in what you're doing!  If you keep your child out of the kitchen or stress that cooking/preparing food is a "mommy only" zone, the more likely your child will have issues with eating like being picky, not trying new foods, outright refusal to eat.  Having your child involved in safe grown-up activities boosts confidence and that confidence leads to independence and a desire to learn.  Letting your child do what mommy or daddy does lets him/her know you trust them enough to help and that's also a great way to bond.  Now I know it's difficult cleaning up a mess here and there --and if your child continuously or purposefully makes messes for you, maybe he/she just isn't ready yet-- but kids learn from making mistakes and I'll bet you after a couple of tiny spills (if you've got crazy reflexes like mine... That is the one thing I will brag about. I can catch a cup midway down to the floor!) your child will learn to stop them before they start :)  It's not all about juicing, but it's a darn-good start on the right track to learning-at-home and eating healthy!

Happy juicing, y'alls!

*These fruits are higher in carbohydrates/fruit sugars.  Use caution with children who are at risk for obesity or have blood sugar disorders like diabetes (hyperglycemia) or hypoglycemia.  If you have any worries about your child's weight or he/she is showing signs of low/high blood sugar, always consult your doctor.  I am not a doctor (clearly) but just a mommy enthusiastic about nutrition and food!
Most, if not all, new/better-quality juicers have safety features that make it impossible for your child to be hurt by the blades in the juicer. ALWAYS monitor your child when using electrical appliances.  It's not worth walking away for even a minute.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pulp Fiction: Homemade Juicing & "Juice Fasts"

Don't be fooled, adding a whole
apple to any juicer is going to
taste pretty gnarly... It's possible,
just not tasty or practical.
Okay, so recently the husbo and I acquired a juicer from Walmart.  We wanted to go with something that was mid-grade in price so a.) if it didn't work we wouldn't feel as bad about the purchase and b.) a lot of the more expensive juicers have that hefty price tag because of the brand name --or because they're commercial juicers and don't belong in your kitchen (though I have to say the hand-cranking wheatgrass juicer looks pretty sweet...  But not $75 sweet for a unitasker) We went with the Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel "Big Mouth Juice Extractor".  It was found at our local store which barely carries anything, so I'm assuming it's easy to find, but you can follow that link to order online or see if it's available in your store.

"Juice Fasting" & Why? That sounds really unhealthy
On the contrary!  It's actually really healthy as long as you're getting a good variety of juices into your system.  The whole idea behind "juice fasting" (the recommended time for beginners being 7-10 days) is to give your already-ill body a rest and let the juicer assist you in absorbing nutrients straight from the fruit.  "But I'm not sick?" Technically if you follow the diet that most busy moms, Americans, or just hard-working people follow, your body isn't going to be in the greatest condition.  Even if you're the healthiest person you know, this is a good way to begin a new diet regimen because you're clearing out all the bad stuff and just holding on to the good stuff.  The question I had was "Why not just eat a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables and forego the juicing?" Well the first answer to that is that we just don't do that. I don't know a lot of people who actually sit down to 10 pounds of fruit and vegetables a day. However, if you do actually do that, here's another reason: it takes our stomachs about 30 minutes-2 hours to digest plant-based foods.  In that time you're losing valuable nutrients from your stomach acids and enzymes breaking down the food.  Also, for people who are ill it takes their bodies even longer to break down those fruits and vegetables and it can add to fatigue (I'm talking people with autoimmune diseases, diabetes, Cancer, anything that has stunted your normal bodily functions)  When you drink juice it empties from your stomach in about 15 minutes.  That means the juice --and all those awesome nutrients-- enter your small intestine faster.  Your small intestine, covered in millions of finger-like extensions called "villi" to create more surface area for maximum nutrient absorption, is where our bodies begin to obtain the nutrients from what we eat whether it's fruits, vegetables, animal, or breads.  So the faster your small intestine gets a hold of this juice, the faster your body will get nutrients.  It's also broken down in a way that your body will end up absorbing more than if you just sat down to a giant plate of fruits and veggies.  This isn't hype, this is actual science.

        Stay Close to a Bathroom!  Yay!
Don't be embarrassed!  If you ever notice
a stark change in your bowel habits or just
don't feel comfortable with them, tell your M.D.!
Since you're digesting these plant-based foods at such a faster rate than normal, it stands to reason these fibers and juices are going to be hitting your large intestine faster as well.  Someone asked me recently "Well does it give you diarrhea?"and I said "Well no, but we're all so used to going once a day --or, God forbid, once a week-- that if we end up going to the bathroom once, twice, or even three times more than usual, we think there's something wrong.  As long as you're not passing watery stools each time it's totally normal.  You're clearing yourself out!" Yes, that's incredibly graphic, but when you're going to go on a drastic diet change, no matter what kind it is, you'll expect to have changes in your bathroom habits! It's all normal, we're all human, we've been doing this since even before we came out of our mom's bellies.  That's just another benefit to juice fasting.  I'm not personally going to talk about my bathroom habits on here, but anyone who is going to be doing nothing but drinking juice is going to clear out, but not in a crampy, painful way like taking a laxative (those cramps are caused by stimulants in laxatives and gas.  Unless you're using fruits or vegetables that you are sensitive to, you shouldn't experience gas or cramps.)  You've heard it here, you've heard it from Oprah, you've heard it from Oz, you've heard it from that weird, pencil-mustachioed guy who does infomercials: overall bodily health begins in the colon.  If you have an unhealthy lower digestive system your immune system is probably compromised, you may be more susceptible to allergies or hay fever, you may have an overall feeling of tiredness and sluggishness, etc.  It's all because that part of our body is an all-natural septic system and if it's not taken care of, you can become septic.  In the worst cases you can even end up in the hospital with painful problems like impaction, infection, and if you have a diet that consists mostly of animal tissue and you're not going often enough, you could even end up with a perforated colon, septic shock, and maybe even death.  Who knew the part of the body we laughed about so much as kids could kill you??  I had a friend who ended up in the hospital from impaction and it was scary as all get-out.  In the end, it's what you put in there that counts.  Colon health from not eating animal flesh is for another article, but you'd be surprised how much better you feel if you cut out meat. I digress...

So is it a true fasting?
Some people can handle a 100% juice fast.  That means replacing any meal and snack, or even any pang of hunger, with a juice drink.  You'll be very surprised how quickly you'll be satiated with a big glass of juice.  It's not like drinking even the best store-bought bottled juice.  There's so many pulpy bits of goodness in there that your stomach becomes full of the fiber and you're not hungry anymore!  I was just thirsty for orange juice the other day and it was the first time I had orange juice that actually made me feel FULL.  I'm not drinking these huge glasses of juice either, just a normal 6-8oz. serving.  The only thing I can say is do not ever start a juice fast if you have any doubts on how it will impact your health.  Especially if you are diabetic.  If you feel you are healthy enough to start the regimen, by all means go ahead, but a friend of mine is diabetic and I'm urging him to talk to his doctor first.  I do not want to be responsible for anyone's blood sugar spiking because they drank too much fruit juice and not enough vegetable juice, or the opposite.  Not because I'm afraid of a lawsuit, no one gives a crap enough about this blog to sue me, but because I don't want anyone to get sick because of advice I gave.

Who will probably feel a little crappy the first few days of the fast
*Coffee/tea/caffeinated beverage drinkers: for obvious reasons you're going to feel a little sluggish. This is why I didn't totally cut out caffeinated soda (which is terrible for you, I know) but I'm slowly weaning as I go along with juicing.
*High-sugar, high-fat eaters: Let's face it, fatty foods and sugars are addictive.  It's a fact.  Even something as innocuous as a slice of cheese releases Casomorphins in the brain to give you a "high" after eating it. (Does Casomorphins sound familiar?  Well, "Caso" is like "Queso" ie. cheese.  "-morphins" are like "endorphins" and "morphine."  A-ha!  These hormones attach to the morphine receptors in our brains to create that "food high.")  Processed sugar has a high all its own so even if you're drinking high-sugar/high-carb juices throughout the day (there should always be a balance) refined sugar is very addictive and your body WILL crave it.  I know mine has!  Where the hell are my donuts???
*Dairy-lovers: for the same reason mentioned above about the Casomorphins.  Good news though, you can actually make your own alternatives to milk with a juicer!  Soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk, they have the recipes!  These will probably be the most complicated things you make with the juicer, but they're still pretty darn easy!

Same goes for any refined, processed food-lovers.  White breads, fried potatoes, etc.  However, if you're a meat-addict, you'll probably feel better than you have in a long time! :)  We just have to accept that even though we're not on the street corner begging for spare change for a Coca-Cola, we're still caffeine, sugar, fat, processed-food junkies.  Some of us all the time, some of us just a little bit of the time, but once it's gone your body will feel withdrawals.  Food is a powerful thing!  It's our body's gasoline, and with an organism as complex as a human being, even slight changes in its normal routine are going to be felt.

What do you recommend I put together for a juice?
The best part of juicing is that you can put anything together that you think will taste good.  Do you love grapes, apples, oranges and cantaloupe?  Throw them all in there!  While you're at it, throw in a big 'ol fistful of spinach and you won't notice a thing!  Or, do what Drew and I do, take a big 'ol bunch of spinach and make "spinach shots" in the morning.  We bought small plastic shot glasses (Actually bought for the Ballard Center at first, but then we got some for ourselves once we started this.  Good idea!) and we'll take shots of straight spinach juice in the morning.  Does it taste good?  Well, it doesn't taste terrible!  We use baby spinach too, so the flavor is a lot milder.  It does take a LOT of leaves to make juice though.  It also takes a lot of leaves to make one serving of cooked spinach, so that's why you always see greens in these ginormous bags at your produce section.  Throw carrots into fruit juice and you definitely won't notice a thing. I actually made a drink strictly for its high-volume of vitamin A and the carrots cut the sweetness so it tasted a lot better.  It had cantaloupe in it, very ripe I might add, so the carrots made it less cloying.

Also, some things aren't going to taste awesome.  Like if you're trying to get in your vegetable fix and you're not used to eating a lot of veggies raw, just chug the crap out of it.  Those kinds of recipes I just call them "chuggers" because it doesn't matter if they're not super-delicious, they're there to get you through the next juice serving and they make sure you get those vegetables in.  You can't just drink fruit juices.  Sorry, it's just not good for you!  Too much sugar, not enough iron and B vitamins, yadda yadda.  Even if you just stick to berry juices (berries have the lowest levels of sugar of all fruits) it's still not enough to maintain a balanced juice diet.  Remember to use the most colorful fruits and vegetables possible, because just living off of apple or pear juice isn't going to help you at all!  This is your chance to get in all those fruits and vegetables you don't have the time to eat all day long, so make it a good one :)

Holy crap, she's finally about to stop talking...
So, in summation, it's a really good idea to either get you back into shape, clear you out before a major diet change, make you feel healthier and happier, and hey, it might even cure diseases you've been fighting for years! Some hard-core juice fasters have lost so much weight they are no longer dependent on insulin or they've not had flare-ups of certain autoimmune disorders like psoriasis or even Lyme disease.  Some no longer need to take pain medications... I've torn my stomach to shreds with NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Mobic, all to alleviate my daily joint/muscle/back pain.  Even when I used to go to the chiropractor 3 times a week.  Plus, it will give you more energy to actually exercise those creaky muscles and joints. I thought I was getting enough exercise chasing after a toddler, but just because someone is losing weight doesn't mean they're getting enough exercise or are in shape.  I really, really want as many people to try this as possible.  Healthy or not, it can benefit a variety of people.  You don't even have to fast and you'll see results.  Elias loves it.  He thinks it's the coolest thing in the world to make his own juice and he'll drink down that juice before you can even ask if he wants a straw.  He'll throw strawberries, watermelon, spinach, cantaloupe, carrots, anything he can get his hands on into the machine and he gets so excited he jumps up and down when he switches the "on" button.  So if your kids don't like to eat anything (like my son) here's a good way to get them involved.  A kid will always eat more if he made it himself, period.

Any questions leave in the comments and I'll answer them!  I'm planning on making another blog full of recipes once I actually write them down. Until then I've just been tossing things in the juicer and seeing what happens haha.  They've all gone great so far!

Happy juicing!

P.s. If you're not enjoying the taste of your juice as much, ADD ICE.  It makes 
a world of difference!

*Note: I'm not a nutritionist, I'm not a doctor, I'm just overly-enthusiastic when it comes to health products and whatnot so, once again, consult a doctor if you feel like this may hurt you in any way.  If your doctor is hesitant, do your own research beforehand so you can show him/her the statistics because a lot of doctors aren't trained in holistic therapies, they're trained to write prescriptions (Not all doctors!  I repeat: not all doctors!) If you have Netflix, check out "Fat, Sick, and Nearly-Dead" for what I believe is the most dramatic change in two peoples' lives as far as juice-fasting goes.  It's incredible and will also answer a lot of questions I may not have addressed.  It's really very interesting!  If you're on a Netflix kick while doing chores, may I also suggest "Vegucated" by a documentarian who was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana!  Awesome!