Juiced Up (Adventures in Cleansing)

Hello! Welcome to the first day of my juice cleanse. So far, so good!* I’m planning on doing three, possibly four days, depending on how I feel. And I thought I would blog about how it’s going along the way.

*It’s been about 7 hours…

I’ve wanted to try a juice cleanse for a while. I’ve done a couple of raw or semi-raw food detoxes in the past year, as you know if you read this thing regularly, but this time I wanted to step it up. I’ve said I want to amp up my efforts starting now, because it’s been a year and it’s time. First step of amping up? Juice cleanse.

The specifics of a juice cleanse are simple enough. Six bottles of juice a day, equal to roughly 96 ounces total. I am adding in an extra bottle of “spicy lemonade” which is like a lazier version of Master Cleanse (lazy because it is agave nectar instead of hardcore black tar pure maple syrup and more water).

When I decided I wanted to go this route, I was planning on ordering my cleanse. Juicing establishments often have cleansing programs. We have one local one in Indy, or there are several in LA or New York who will ship overnight to you. The national ones are crazy expensive, though, presumably because they are using LA or New York pricing. The local one was cheaper, so I decided to go with that, but when I went to place my order I was informed that they were booked for the next 8 days and I should have scheduled earlier. Something they could have mentioned on their website, which I read three times.

So, I was annoyed. I put a fair amount of effort into planning the cleanse, limiting my nutritional and caloric intakes for the week and limiting my number of work assignments for the weekend. But I was telling my mom about this problem and being the angel on earth she is, she suggested she buy me a juicer! I have been really missing my roommate’s juicer since I moved out a few months ago, so that was like the best solution I could think of.

After doing a little research on different juicers, I ended up with the Omega Vert 330. It juices at a low-speed, which is important because the high-speed ones heat up the juice and cook away some important nutrients. So far, it’s been pretty great.

The Omega Vert 330 Juicer! (Yes, I am blogging Instagrams. #noshame)
The Omega Vert 330 Juicer! (Yes, I am blogging Instagrams. #noshame)

But then the problem was the actual juice. The bottled programs have certain schedules to follow, and then often you pick the specific juices based on the category. For instance, you start with a green juice of your choosing, then mid-morning have a citrus. So that’s fine, I had some guidance there, but I still didn’t know specific recipes. I was on an hours long Internet scavenger hunt, looking for the perfect combo of juices, and if possible, recipes to go with them.

In the end, I found a few basic ingredient lists (e.g. Apple, Lemon & Ginger), a few actual recipes, and a couple that I made up myself (or already had in my repertoire). I spent quite a while mapping out which juices I would drink which days and in what order. Some of the standard ingredients were going to be duplicated (or quadruplicated) on any given day, but I didn’t want, like, three pineapple juices on day 1 and none the rest of the time. I also wanted to make sure if there was a juice I was really dreading that the one after it would be extra delish. That was another thing, I needed to make sure that I wasn’t cheating by using juices that sounded really tasty but weren’t necessarily as effective as others would have been.

Granted, I’m only halfway through the first day, so have had three out of eighteen juices, but I think I did a good job. I am starting out every day with the same super green juice (kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery, apple, lemon & ginger) but the second green juice of the day can be a little more innovative. In an hour or so I’m going to drink “Mojito Juice,” which came mostly from the link above.

The process has been really great so far. Aside from actually purchasing the juicer, it’s significantly cheaper to do it yourself. It was going to be about $160 to do the local bottled program, which is a lot. I spent about $115 at Whole Foods, which is still a lot, but it’s less than $160. Also, the amount of produce necessary for 18 16 oz bottles of juice is pretty substantial.

-This is what $115 of organic produce looks like.
-This is what $115 of organic produce looks like.

For bottles, I poured the water out of a bunch of 16.9 oz water bottles and into bigger 1.5 liter bottles, and am using the little ones for juice. Glass is better, and if I’d been thinking ahead I would have been saving up tea bottles over time, but live and learn. The plastic ones are fine!

The other good thing about doing it myself is it’s actually kind of fun. It’s quite a bit of work but I like seeing the whole process. There’s something so soothing about seeing the process, witnessing how it goes from a big leafy green to a juice I’ll be drinking. I like the creativity.

Day 1, Juices 2-5
Day 1, Juices 2-5

I’m going to keep updating the next couple of days, tracking my progress both physically and emotionally. And I’ll post my “meal plan,” but I’ll wait for a post that isn’t already so long. (I’m wordy, I’m sorry!)

In the meantime, here are some recipes:

Super Green Juice

  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 8 Leaves Romaine
  • 3 Stalks Celery
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 Apples
  • 1 Inch Ginger

Grapefruit-Ginger Juice

  • 2 Red Grapefruits
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Inch Ginger

Spicy Lemonade

  • 15 Ounces Filtered Water
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar

Spicy Lemonade

-Please don’t be mad if these do not taste good. Sadly deliciousness is not a requirement for juice cleanse. I think they are all tolerable though, particularly the first two.

Happy juicing!
-lj

Clean and Simple

Have you ever had a junk food hangover? I have noticed in the last seven months that now that I stay away from things like fried food, gluten and sugar most of the time, when I really overindulge, I wake up the next morning feeling like I’ve gone on a bender. And I guess maybe I have. Sugar and carbs are major components of alcohol and junk food.

So, as the weekend before Halloween, I sort of expected that it would not exactly be diet-friendly. But then last night, I made the critical error of skipping dinner before I went out and of course the party we went to had an immaculate spread of all the best party foods. And, of course, a few hours and a couple of bars later, I was starving again, because brownies and spinach dip are not exactly power foods. That meant when I got home late night I wanted to eat some more, and I wasn’t really in the mood for fruit salad…In other words, it was not a health-friendly eating night. Oh, and I forgot to mention that earlier that day I’d gone out for lunch and had both white bread and French fries. Oops.

Now, I have always maintained that days like this are important to avoid going totally crazy and/or giving up, and also because it is nice to give your metabolism a little jolt so it doesn’t get too comfortable. But there are cheat days and then there are CHEAT DAYS. When I woke up this morning feeling groggy, sluggish and a little bit congested, I knew immediately that yesterday might have been full of deliciousness, but it was not full of good choices.

On mornings like this, part of me wants to keep up the junk food momentum. There was a pretty big lobe in my brain suggesting I go grab some Mexican takeout and watch football all day. But the rest of me rejected that idea. Even more than I wanted comfort food, I really wanted to feel healthy instead of disgusting. The best option then seemed like I should eat things that would counteract all the damage I did the day before. Kind of like a mini-cleanse to recover from the weekend.

Clean Southwest Salad with Spicy Balsamic Vinaigrette

Of course, feeling sluggish and generally gross, I didn’t want to put in a whole lot of effort, so I just looked around the kitchen for something that would be quick but still healthy. What I came up with ended up being a huge success. I am super excited about the dressing, in particular. I will definitely keep this in mind for future weekends like this one. We still have several more holidays to go this season!

Clean Southwest Salad

Serves: 2

  • 1 Cup Garlic Quinoa
  • 1/2 Cup Black Beans (Canned, Organic is fine)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Organic Spinach
  • 3 Campari Tomatoes, Diced
  • 1 Small Avocado, Diced
  • Sea Salt & Ground Black Peppercorns to taste
  • 1 TBL Spicy Vinaigrette (see below)

Mix together the garlic quinoa and black beans. If the quinoa is already hot, it might be enough to warm the beans. Otherwise, microwave for 30 seconds, or until it is desired temperature. Top with spinach, tomatoes and avocado. Add salt & pepper. Drizzle with the spicy vinaigrette. Eat. Cleanse!

Spicy Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves: 2

  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Cold-Pressed if possible)
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Sriracha (or to taste)
  • 1 Teaspoon Lime Juice (or juice from 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 Teaspoon 0% Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  • Salt to taste

Add everything to a small bowl, mix well. That’s it.

Spicy Balsamic Vinaigrette

I really enjoyed this salad. It was both light and filling, and it was flavorful enough that it wasn’t too shocking after a day of eating whatever I wanted. In particular, sriracha and balsamic vinegar may not seem like the best match on paper, but seriously, I love this dressing. It’s spicy and robust, but a little sweet too, so no single flavor is overwhelming. The addition of the teaspoon of Greek Yogurt gave it a nice creaminess, and gathered everything else together. The salad itself is nothing particularly innovative, especially since I have written about pretty similar things before. But, the sriracha is just what this combo has been missing, so I am very excited that I’ve evolved the ingredients I’ve always worked with so that now I’m actually looking forward to eating this salad again.

I definitely recommend this for a nice clean lunch either as a recoup or just because it is healthy and delicious. It helped reenergize me and break me out of my junkfood hangover, but I think it will serve just as well to energize me halfway through a particularly dull workday, or basically any time.

Regroup

It’s probably not super surprising to learn that I have not been feeling very motivated the past few weeks. Summertime is so fun and feels  carefree, and I’m very easily distracted. For a while I was on vacation and then I got back to the inevitable post-vacation blues (and the intense allergy attack that always greets my return to the Midwest). So I was lax in my dietary restrictions. I kept telling myself I wanted to get back to eating clean and avoiding foods that aren’t cleansing, and then I’d say, no, it’s okay, I’ll start tomorrow for sure. I don’t know if I was really bad compared to other people, but last week was certainly my least healthy week in months. This past weekend I was finally feeling like I was tired of not trying so hard, and I’m sure my less than great eating wasn’t helping my sinus situation. However, I had a lot of social obligations this weekend, which made it a really great weekend until Sunday morning came around and all the carbs, saturated fats and alcohol sugars really made themselves known. Honestly, I was worried my motivation was gone forever.

Today I woke up feeling the most congested I thus far. My voice was hoarse and my head was heavy. But, today instead of letting myself drown in comfort food and self-pity over not feeling good, I took some meds and decided to get it together.

First, I cleaned our whole house. I worked on areas that are nearly perpetually cluttered or grimy that we usually overlook. It helped so much. It’s hard for me to feel like keeping my body clean when the place where it spends 80% of the time is dirty. But now, the floors are shiny and the table tops are cleared and I finally feel that energy I’ve been missing the last three weeks or so. I was still so energized after the cleaning was done that I went to the gym, even though I hadn’t planned on it for today.

This new inspiration for clean living also meant eating well at every meal. For breakfast, I didn’t have enough fruit to make juice or a smoothie, so I ate half an avocado that was about to go bad. Maybe not the most conventional breakfast choice but it’s better than pancakes. For lunch I went to the market to pick up some things, and while I was there I grabbed a Greek wrap, which is literally a Greek salad wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. I supplemented it with some hummus for protein. For dinner, I decided to make an effort for the first time in probably a week. Dinner was roasted broccolini with garlic, quinoa and cherries.

Roasted Broccolini with Garlic Quinoa (and some cherries)

The quinoa was a recipe I made up on the spot. I’ve talked about quinoa before, but I’m always trying to find new ways to make it interesting.

Garlic Quinoa

Servings: 3-4

  • 1/2 cup Dry Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth (I use Trader Joe’s Organic)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 TBL Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Garlic quinoa, after the liquid evaporates

Add everything to a small saucepan. Set stove to high heat, bring liquid to a fast boil. Stir. Reduce heat to low-medium/simmer, cover the saucepan, let it simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally (takes 15-20 minutes). I recommend watching it after 15 or 16 minutes because if it cooks too long some of the quinoa will stick to the bottom. I think stirring will also help with that.

The result is a sort of orange-ish color quinoa that is very fragrant (and delicious!). I’ll probably mess around with other spices in the future, maybe red pepper flakes or paprika.

Along with the quinoa, I roasted some broccolini and garlic in 1.5 tablespoons of oil. Set oven at 400, roast for 20 minutes, stirring once in the middle. I tried not to get it too well done because I wanted it to maintain all its nutrients.

I’ve only recently started considering broccolini. I grabbed it at the grocery last week because it looked good, so I decided to do some research. It turns out, there are a lot of rumors about our new friend, broccolini. It is for sure a hybrid. The child of broccoli. But I guess it is the soap opera star of the vegetable world because nobody seems to know for sure who his daddy is. One site I read said he was a mix of broccoli and kale, which excited me because I am always looking to increase my leafy green intake. Another site said it’s broccoli and asparagus. A third site then said it is a cross between regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli, which appears to be a different kale-like green leafy vegetable in the cabbage family. I’ve essentially decided it doesn’t really matter because either way, it is crazy healthy, and that’s the goal! My entire life is one big Cold War against iron deficiency, and broccolini is an awesome iron-rich weapon for my stockpile.  But this is off-topic!

So the entire day was a success, which I needed! Today was the kind of day I should be having every day, and as a result I feel the best I’ve felt in a week, if not longer. I realize eating so lightly every day might not be realistic, but hopefully my inspiration is back for good, and I can keep thinking of ways to make clean eating enjoyable, rather than seeming like a burden the way it has of late. So, hopefully this is a real turnaround moment, and this renewed positive attitude sticks around!

-lj