Recipes

Healthy Dessert Time

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I just got back from an inspiring yoga retreat in Costa Rica! It felt so good to take the time to practice yoga and meditation with a group of amazing women while soaking up the sun and local culture. Now that I’m back in chilly Boston, with yet another storm snowing me in, I’m enjoying spending a couple of days cooking, cleaning and grounding myself.

We were particularly blessed on this journey to have an amazing team of personal chefs who kept us cleaning our plates with a healthy and creative diet. My hands-down favorite this trip was a dessert of avocado pudding on an almond crust. I immediately had to recreate it at home. If you have never had avocado pudding before you are missing out!! It’s all the joy and flavor of eating a rich chocolate pudding and it’s healthy!

Avocado pudding

Now, there are many ways to make avocado pudding. I went the simple and delicious route using minimal ingredients. This turned out beautifully and was made in less than 10 minutes, including cleanup!

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1.5 cups walnuts, almonds or pecans (I used a mix of walnuts and pecans because that’s what I had at home)
  • 2 tbsp Grade B/Dark Amber maple syrup (Fancy will do if you can’t find Dark Amber)
  • A pinch of sea salt

Pudding:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 4 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder (regular cocoa powder works fine too and might be more mellow if you’re not used to raw cocoa)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add nuts to your food processor and grind until they break into rice-sized chunks.
  2. Gradually add the maple syrup and sea salt and combine until ingredients stick together. Be careful not to over-process. It’s nice when there’s a good texture to the nut-combination.
  3. Press mixture into the vessel of your choice. I used an 8″ square pyrex dish. Individual ramekins also work well.
  4. Wipe your food processor clean, then add in all of the pudding ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
  5. Top the crust with the avocado pudding.
  6. For best cutting results (and the best favor in my opinion) chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Tip: If you chill the avocados before making the pudding that will cut down on the chilling time…and make licking the spoon more enjoyable. 😉

It should be noted this is not just a dessert. It’s an excellent source of rich omega 3’s, antioxidants and protein and I’m just as happy to eat it for breakfast as I am to eat it as an afternoon snack or dessert. Om nom nom!

The Thanksgiving Post

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My partner and I are hosting Thanksgiving for our families for the first time this year. I’ve hosted one Thanksgiving before, but it was about six or seven years ago so it’s been a while. The one thing my Mom instilled on me when it comes to making a large meal like this is doing as much prep ahead of time so I can actually enjoy the day.

I’ve opted to go with a fairly traditional Thanksgiving. This is mostly so I don’t stress about testing out a ton of new recipes ahead of time, and I also feel it gives a neutral playing field for getting our families together: a little familiar, a little new. That said, I had to go the extra mile with a few recipes to add some of my values: using organic ingredients, local ingredients when available and altering some ingredients to make dishes healthier and I believe tastier. I thought I’d share my menu and prep work with you in the hopes it may inspire you this Thanksgiving.

You will notice that this is not a paleo menu. Despite my mostly cooking paleo at home, I wasn’t ready to force this on a crowd at our first Thanksgiving. Plus, deep down inside I really love me some gluten. You will, however, notice this menu is dairy-free (aside from the appetizers and mashed potatoes guests are bringing). I highly suspect no one will even notice the missing dairy thanks to some exceptional substitutes! Check it out!

Make as much in advance and freeze it! You're looking at Carrot Cardamom Soup, Apple Pie Filling, Maple Pumpkin Pie filling, Paleo Mushroom Soup (for Green Bean Casserole), and Sweet Potato Casserole.
Make as much in advance and freeze it! You’re looking at Carrot Cardamom Soup, Apple Pie Filling, Maple Pumpkin Pie filling, Paleo Mushroom Soup (for Green Bean Casserole), and Sweet Potato Casserole.

The Menu

Key: P=Paleo, DF=Dairy Free, GF=Gluten Free, V=Vegan

  • Appetizers: I can’t help you here, guests are bringing these.
  • Carrot Cardamom Soup, P/DF/GF, make in advance and freeze
  • Brined Spatchcocked Turkey, I’m using the William-Sonoma Brine, this might be a cop-out considering how easy brine is to make, but it’s tried-and-true in our family. I’m also stuffing the skin with ghee before roasting. This will be the first time in 5 years that we’re not having a bacon-wrapped turkey because my partner wanted to really taste just the turkey skin.
  • Sweet Potato Casserole, P/DF/GF/V, recipe below, make plain casserole in advance and freeze before cooking.
  • Green Bean CasseroleP/DF/GF, I used this soup recipe and blended it smooth with an immersion blender. I’ll be using the recipe for fried onions found here for the topping. Make the soup in advance and freeze. The casserole can be put together a day in advance, as can the fried onions. Then add the onions and cook on Thanksgiving day.
  • Homemade Gravy, recipe below
  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce, I add chopped pecans and orange zest to this recipe. It can also be done with maple syrup but I’m doing maple in the pumpkin pie and didn’t want maple-overload. Make up to a week in advance and refrigerate.
  • Sausage Stuffing, if you follow the recipe as written this is P/DF/GF. I’m using Whole Foods’ stuffing bread though so mine will not be GF. I’m also omitting the pepper.
  • Mashed Potatoes (provided by a guest)
  • Apple Pie, DF I use my Mom’s very traditional recipe for this.
  • Maple Pumpkin Pie, DF, recipe below

Sweet Potato Casserole (P/DF/GF/V)

Ingredients:

  • 6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil the sweet potatoes in a pot of salted water for ~20 minutes, until they become soft. Drain.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and use an immersion blender to blend smooth (or put in a food processor or blender to blend).
  3. At this point you can put this in a casserole dish or ziplock and freeze until the day before Thanksgiving. If you want to proceed…
  4. Add to casserole dish and bake for ~20 minutes at 350ºF. If you’d like a paleo topping check out the pecan topping found here. I’m personally cheating here and topping with marshmallows because…well, marshmallows.

Homemade Gravy

Full disclosure: I found this recipe at Whole Foods but it’s too good to not share! I did make a couple minor adjustments.

Ingredients:

  • Pan drippings and brown bits at the bottom of the pan
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup turkey stock (see recipe below)
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot powder mixed with 3 tbsp of water
  • 2 tsp porcini mushroom dust (I bought dried porcini mushrooms and will be grinding them)
  • salt, pepper and fresh parsley to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove turkey from roasting pan and set aside to rest.
  2. Deglaze pan with the wine and stock, making sure to scrape off all the brown bits.
  3. Your choice to pour this into a saucepan or continue by making the gravy in the roasting pan.
  4. Add arrowroot powder mixture and stir until thick.
  5. Add butter, mushroom dust, parsley and spices. Serve hot.

Stock Ingredients:

  • Neck, giblets (not the liver as it can make the stock bitter) and backbone (if spatchcocking) from the turkey
  • Water
  • 1-2 stalks celery, halved
  • ½ an onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt + pepper

Stock Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, add giblets and cover with water.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil and let it cook away until it’s about half of the amount you started with.
  4. Let cool, remove fat layer, and reduce again until rich and golden. Strain.
  5. This can be made ahead of time and frozen. I’ll be doing it day-of since that’s when I’ll be cutting out the backbone.

Maple Pumpkin Pie (DF)

A good portion of this recipe was taken from this recipe (and you can find a Paleo crust there if you’d like), but I doctored it up a bit. The filling is VERY easy to make and can be made ahead and frozen. If you’d like to make the whole pie in one shot start with the directions for the crust.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 15oz can of puréed pumpkin (you can also make your own, but from what I’ve read it’s very hard to get the right consistency when you roast your own and it’s often too wet)
  • 2/3 cups raw walnut halves
  • 1/3 cup raw or roasted unsalted cashews
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp maple extract

Filling Directions:

  1. Blend nuts in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Add eggs, honey and maple syrup and blend for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth (you could also add some of the coconut milk if it’s too thick for your food processor or blender to puree well). It is very important to blend until completely smooth, otherwise your custard will be watery.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined.
  3. At this point you can put this in a ziplock bag and freeze it until the day before you want to make the pie. Then just defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  4. If you’d like to continue, add the filling to a pre-baked pie crust and cook for ~40 minutes at 350ºF.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • ½ cup leaf lard
  • ¼ cup butter or coconut oil if you’re going for dairy-free
  • 3-4 tbsp very cold water
  • zest from a small orange
  • 1/8 cup pecan meal (grind pecans)
  • 1 egg white, beaten

Crust Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF
  2. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, pecan meal, orange-zest, and sugar.
  3. Cut in lard and butter until pea-sized beads are formed.
  4. Add water 1tbsp at a time and knead into the batter until it is smooth enough to roll into a ball without pieces flaking off–if it becomes sticky and thin add more flour.
  5. Grease a 9″ pie plate and dust with flour.
  6. Roll out the crust batter with a floured rolling pin on a floured surface until round. Place in the pie plate and lightly pat down to form into the pie plate. Press edges with a fork.
  7. If you have them, add pie weights to help the crust keep it’s shape while cooking. If you don’t have pie weights, pierce the crust with a fork every ¼” or so to stop the shell from bubbling up while it bakes.
  8. Bake for ~20 minutes, until the crust is just starting to brown.
  9. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before adding filling.

I’ll add pictures once the meal is cooked. 🙂 What are your favorite Thanksgiving treats? What tricks do you have for prep work?

Let’s Do Brunch!

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Oh gosh, I’m so behind in posts so let’s start with something tasty! First, a quick update on fitness. I had a BLAST climbing in Central Rock Gym’s The Heist bouldering competition at the end of September. My knee has been doing great and it didn’t bug me at all during the comp. If you’d like to see highlights from my climbs check out my video below (note, I was climbing in the Beginner’s Division as I’m still a n00b in the climbing world).
Tonight I’m taking a lead climbing class and am thrilled to enter the next level of climbing! But, climbing aside, let’s talk about food!

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Paleo Pancakes with Raspberry Maple Syrup and Sausage!

You are in for a treat! This easy-to-make meal is paleo, gluten and dairy free, high in protein and absolutely delicious! I did not invent the pancake recipe. It’s been floating around the internet for at least a year now, but they’re so good!

Paleo Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Bananas
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 2 servings protein powder (optional, I personally skip this)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend briefly until smooth and just a little frothy.
  2. Preheat a skillet, if it’s not non-stick add an oil of your choosing (I used coconut oil).
  3. Cook just like pancakes. A few minutes on each side. I recommend keeping the pancakes small. It sounds like this recipe is just too simple to work, but the pancakes actually hold together very easily and are easy to flip. They come out light and fluffy with just a mild banana flavor.
  4. Makes 2 servings (~8 medium pancakes)

Raspberry Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a blender.
  2. Heat before serving. Yes, it’s that easy.

Breakfast Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage or 1 tsp fresh minced sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh minced thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary or 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except oil and mix well.
  2. Preheat a skillet over medium with 1 tbsp coconut oil.
  3. Form pork mixture into small patties and place in pan.
  4. Fry over medium about 3-4 minutes per side, until nice and golden on the outside and fully cooked on the inside.
  5. Makes ~12 sausage. Freeze any extras to easily reheat for next time!

Let me know what you think of these recipes! I was particularly pleased with the breakfast sausage. It has a TON of flavor without being spicy. Perfect for a breakfast sausage. I was a big fan!

Fueling Up!

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Things have been going so well with my knee that I’ve stopped blogging my daily workouts and am going back to just writing about unique workouts and nutrition! It also doesn’t help that it’s school season again so my full-time job has ramped up and I’m once again at the mercy of teachers and students needing all things technical.

Yesterday I signed up for The Heist!! This is an all-women’s bouldering competition held at Central Rock Gym (my home gym) in Watertown, MA. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I heard about it after CRG’s Ring of Fire comp back in March. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to compete due to my knee, but I’m back in the gym twice a week and I’m feeling strong so let’s do this!

I’ll admit, I’m nervous. I’m still very much a beginner climber; my height to weight ratio really works against me in the gym. So even though I’ve been climbing twice a week since January, my techniques’ just so-so and I’ll be competing at a beginner’s level. This means I’ll be attempting 5 bouldering problems rated V0-V2 over the course of 3 hours. That is a LONG comp, much longer than the one I did back in March. I honestly rarely do gym sessions that are so long and while the length is really to give people time to rest between attempts, folks who need more attempts (as I might due to my level) will just end up climbing more. My goal is literally to not come in last. This is a real goal for me because in my last comp, well, I came in last. 

Due to the healing time for my knee I missed out on the chance to train with The Heist CRG Team so for now I’m on my own. I’m training by bouldering once a week to gain strength and skill and top roping once a week to help me with endurance. I also just treated myself to new shoes (I’ll blog about those another time) since my old shoes were starting to fall apart and really weren’t ideal for bouldering. On the days I’m not in the gym I’m doing a mix of cardio (biking for my knee), tabata/HiiT workouts, kettlebell strength training, and yoga.

It’s been interesting, as I work to strengthen my legs and upper body I’ve been gaining weight. A chunk of that is from new muscle, but if I’m honest with myself a larger chunk comes from allowing myself to drift into a summer junk food diet cheating more and more on my allergy diet. I’d still say overall I’m a very healthy eater, but I’ve had fried clams/oysters, lobster salads, bagels with lox, burgers and beer, Mexican and margaritas, and all sorts of things that are great once in a while but not once a week. It’s time to slim down, which means being strict about not eating foods I’m allergic to and keeping my portions reasonable with a paleo-tilt. Every pound in my body is a pound I’m dragging up the wall with me. Thankfully, this is also harvest season so my kitchen is FULL of local, organic produce, most of which from my or my Dad’s garden.

This week I’m trying out a few new recipes. The first one was Punjabi Baingan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish that I actually enjoy (I usually hate eggplant). I basically followed that recipe to a T except that I quadrupled the amount of garam masala, added a little turmeric and cardamom, and used an immersion blender at the end. Its was so good!

Last night though was INCREDIBLE!! It was adapted heavily from this recipe, but I’ll put my whole recipe here.

Grilled Chicken with Raw Peanut Ginger Lime Veggies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, or an oil of your choosing
  • 3 large or 5 small carrots, spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 large zucchini spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 medium beet spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter if you’re strict paleo)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk (use canned or “cooking coconut milk”)
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

*Note: I use the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer but have my eye on the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. The GEFU works well for zucchini but for the carrots and beets I just used a vegetable peeler to make strips.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your grill (if it’s not grilling season you can pan-fry the chicken in coconut oil, ghee or an oil of your choosing). In a small bowl mix olive oil, salt and pepper and brush on chicken (note: if you’re pan-frying just sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken).
  2. In a medium bowl mix the nut butter, coconut milk, aminos, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and lime juice. 
  3. Begin grilling the chicken, depending on the thickness it should be grilled about 6 minutes per side to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  4. Mix spiraled/peeled veggies with cilantro and stir in sauce.
  5. After chicken has cooled for ~5 minutes cut it into bite-sized chunks and mix in with the “pasta” until fully coated in the sauce.
  6. Serves two!

Finally, here are two of my favorite DIY workouts from the past two weeks. These are both core and lower-body intensive to compliment my climbing and knee recovery, but they are still full-body workouts (and both started with 30 mins on the exercise bike doing intervals and end with 15-20 mins of yoga):

8/22/2014 3 Rounds for Time (my time = 20 mins)

  1. KB backward lunge row and pass under x 20 (26lb KB)
  2. Weighted sit-up and butt-lift x 10 (15lb dumbbell)
  3. Single-leg lateral lift x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. KB Single-leg deadlifts x 5 each side (26lb KB)
  5. Single-leg kick-backs x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)

9/3/2014 – 2 Rounds for Time (my time = 22 mins) – I purposely lowered the KB weight for this per my Physical Therapist as I get back into weighted squats. I’d normally use a 26lb KB so choose your own weight that’s right for you.

  1. Weighted double-leg lifts x 15 (5 lb ankle weights)
  2. Single-leg lateral lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  3. Single-leg medial lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. 2 X 20 Kettlebell One-Arm Swings (15lb KB)
  5. Figure 4 Squats x 12 each leg (15lb KB)
  6. Weighted Deadlift kickbacks x 15 each side (15lb KB + 5 lb ankle weights)

Enjoy the beginning of the change of season and remember to eat those fresh veggies!!

 

Steak and Exercise

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I got a good cardio workout in today, plus those evil PT exercises:

Time: 1:15

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift-crunches x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side
  2. 30 mins cycling, using Random intervals, average level 8.
  3. 30 mins swimming laps.

I was feeling all that cardio today, more-so than earlier in the week. I greatly enjoyed a little nap afterwards. 🙂

As always, exercise needs to be paired with a good diet to be effective. Last night I made a stellar carne asada and baby kale salad (if I do say so myself) and I thought you might appreciate the recipe. Paleo and delicious!

Paleo Carne Asada and Baby Kale Salad
Paleo Carne Asada and Baby Kale Salad

Paleo Carne Asada

Ingredients (for 2-3 people):

Note: Sauce ingredients make enough for up to 9lbs of meat.

  • 3lbs Grassfed Skirt Steak, tenderized (the more you tenderize, the more it will soak in the sauce)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1/3 cup lime juice, preferably fresh squeezed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Bragg’s amino acids or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Optional: 1 dried chipotle pepper finely ground (this will really make the dish spicy, without it the sauce isn’t too hot, I didn’t add it personally)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and whisk until well-mixed. Remove one cup of the mixture and reserve it for later.
  2. Add the steak to the marinade and marinate covered in the fridge anywhere from 5-24 hours. Skirt steak is traditionally a tougher cut so the longer it marinates the more tender it is, though some skirt steak (like the Boyden Farm one I purchased from Vermont) is already quite tender so 5 hours is enough time. If it’s particularly tough you can let it marinate for up to 48 hours.
  3. Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat.
  4. Grill ~5 mins each side for medium rare.
  5. Slice the meat across the grain. Pour the rest of the marinade over the meat and serve.

Baby Kale Summer Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large handfuls of baby kale
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 medium-sized lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix kale, cilantro, avocado and tomatoes.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss with lime juice.

The salad and steak really compliment each other. I love mixing warm meat with cool veggies this time of year. For the salad, definitely feel free to add whatever fresh vegetables you have around. I grabbed a zucchini from my garden and forgot to use it but thankfully I have more kale and will be recreating this salad again tonight. It’s been a staple in my lunches as well as it’s a very easy salad to through together at work and lime + cilantro is basically like crack. So tasty!! Enjoy!

All About The Juice, Part 2

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Well, I made it through the 3-Day Juice Cleanse! This post will discuss the reactions my partner and I had to the cleanse and it will contain the recipes I used for our dinners. For a full description of the cleanse, including tips and recipes, check out my previous post “All About The Juice, Part 1“.

Reactions:

Goals

My partner and I did this cleanse together. My goal was to clean out my digestive tract after being wishy-washy with my food allergy diet over the winter. I also wanted to see what a juice cleanse was like. His goal was purely to experience the juice cleanse.

His Experience

My partner chose not to do any prep work for this cleanse (which is not advisable) so day 1 for him was also day 1 with no caffeine. This makes it a little tough to decipher the difference between the juice cleanse and caffeine withdrawal. He was very tired the first two days. He felt his sense of smell was heightened as soon as day 1 and that his skin was clearer. He experienced feeling cold the first two days. He also said he had an overall feeling of being healthier but that he couldn’t describe that in specific terms.

He said if he felt the diet was sustainable he would stay on it because he liked how it made him feel. He did experience food cravings though overall he felt like it was such a large quantity of juice that he wasn’t hungry, he was just wishing his food intake was something other than juice. 😉 He also questioned the amount of sugar he was consuming and how that was effecting his body. He experienced bad breath throughout the cleanse (more on that later) and a slight metallic taste in the mouth. He did not weigh himself before/after.

Her Experience

I prepped for 1.5 weeks in advance by getting back on my food allergy diet (no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, coffee, and a few misc. items) and also stopped processed foods and alcohol. It should probably be noted that I’ve been off caffeine for over a year now so there were no issues with withdrawal. In just the 1.5 weeks before the cleanse I had lost 5 lbs, showing how much bloating/inflammation I was getting from eating things I was allergic to (when I first was diagnosed with food allergies I lost 30lbs).

Day 1 I was pretty grumpy. I agree with my partner that the amount of juice we were consuming was a little ridiculous; it was about 20 cups worth per day. I felt like I hardly had a chance to drink water because it took me so long to drink all the juice. Calorie-wise though we were under average for the day so I also felt compelled to drink it all. I was not hungry, though just like my partner I had cravings for fatty foods. I was very glad to have warm foods at night as I was feeling very cold, though I couldn’t finish my (very small) dinner because I felt so full. I also had periods during the day of feeling like I was high and I attribute that to the gut-punch of nutrients in my system.

Day 2 it continued to feel like a chore to make and drink the juices, but the food cravings went away. I still battled with feeling cold so I drank hot water and tried to get some sun. I drank the juices faster so I would have some time in between to digest. As with my partner, my sense of smell seemed heightened and my skin seemed healthy and glowing. I did have a strong metal taste in my mouth and it was bothering me a bit. I still felt very full until after dinner when I finally had a great purging experience. 😉 I feel like I got that colon cleanse I was looking for! After that things got a lot better.

Day 3 I had no problem with the juices. I had a ton of energy and was in a great mood. I felt like if I had the money to afford all those fruits and veggies that I could have continued with the cleanse. I had no food cravings and still felt full most of the day. I continued to have the metallic taste in my mouth until after dinner and in researching it I believe my partner and I were in a state of ketosis. I had not heard of that before and it was a little disturbing but after reading up about it it makes sense. In very brief terms it’s the body’s natural reaction to being starved of fats. That also made me wonder if the sugar intake was actually ok. My partner combated this by taking chlorella often (over the daily recommended dose), which he believed helped. I was taking normal daily doses of chlorella and didn’t notice a difference.

Today I was happy to break the fast with some eggs over easy fried in coconut oil, avocado, berries and a green smoothie. I’m curious to see how I digest that and I intend to eat light healthy meals for lunch and dinner. (*Edit: no problem digesting it, though I didn’t have the appetite for large meals during the day and now, three days later, I still loose appetite faster than usual.u)

Breaking the juice cleanse!
Breaking the juice cleanse!

Dinner Recipes

It’s recommended to eat small meals consisting of just fruits and veggies for dinner while doing the juice cleanse. Tim and I chose to add some healthy fats in as well since our goal was not weight-loss and adding in healthy fats really helps with food cravings. We were also feeling cold during the cleanse so we cooked hot meals. Raw meals are a great option if you don’t feel chilly. These are just the three basic meals I made, there are certainly hundreds of others out there.

Mashed Cauliflower with Kale

Mashed Cauliflower with Kale
Mashed Cauliflower with Kale

This is a great comfort meal, not dissimilar to mashed potatoes. In fact, when I’m not cleansing I make them with either butter or ghee instead of coconut oil and it often fools people into thinking they’re potatoes! Note, I couldn’t eat my whole bowl, but my partner had no trouble eating his. I saved the rest and threw it into the last recipe listed here.

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 heads Cauliflower
  • half bunch of Kale, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Steam cauliflower until tender (~15 minutes).
  2. Steam kale until tender (~5 minutes).
  3. Add cauliflower and all remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. I like to leave mine just a little chunky so it has that mashed-potato feel to it.
  4. Toss with kale, top with additional paprika for color.

Simple Skillet Kale with Portobellos

Ingredients (for two):

  • large bunch Kale, chopped into large slices
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, sliced into 1/4″ strips
  • 1/2 large Vidalia Onion (or a whole small one), peeled and chopped.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 large Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt + Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat until fully melted.
  2. Add onions and mushrooms, season with cumin, salt and pepper and sauté until the onions begin to appear translucent and the mushrooms are a bit browned on each side.
  3. Add kale, garlic and additional salt and pepper as desired. Fold the onions/mushrooms and oil over the kale. Cover and let steam for a few minutes, or until the kale is bright green and slightly wilted.
  4. Remove from heat, squeeze with lemon, enjoy!

Veggie Pasta

Veggie Pasta
Veggie Pasta

I make this meal often in the summer and usually add in chickpeas. It’s versatile, quick and delicious!!

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 small Zucchini, either spiraled or use a peeler to create thin slices
  •  2 small Summer Squash, either spiraled or use a peeler to create thin slices
  • 1 Portobello mushroom, chopped
  • 1/2 a Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat until fully melted.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon, parsley and salt and pepper.
  3. Add onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onions begin to appear translucent and the mushrooms are a bit browned on each side.
  4. Add zucchini and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until it’s warm and bright.
  5. Add whisked dressing and stir to coat. Let cook another 30-60 seconds. Enjoy!
  6. *Note: Mine looks a little creamy in the picture because I threw in the leftover mashed cauliflower that I had. 🙂

If you try a juice cleanse I’d love to know how the experience goes for you!

All About The Juice, Part 1

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Back in January I made a large post on cleansing. Spring is often a valuable time to cleanse to help the body make the transition from winter hibernation mode, which often involves indulging in comfort foods and drink, to the Spring Cleaning mode of enjoying more light and activity. As I mentioned in my post, there are several types of cleanses. Since I keep a fairly “clean” diet due to my food allergies, I decided to go with one of the more intense cleanses and try a three day juice cleanse. Fresh homemade juice is extremely nutrient-dense and a great way to load up your body on nutrients and give your digestive organs a little break by only processing liquid. Even if you have no interest in cleansing, this post will include several tips on juicing and the juice recipes can be used any time in addition to your regular diet.

For any new readers, I want to be very clear that I am not a nutritionist. I have personally learned quite a bit about nutrition over the years from a combination of working with healthcare professionals and dealing with my own food allergies, but by no means do I claim to be a professional. This is all my personal educated opinions.

I’ve been making fresh juices for several years now, but this is the first time I’ve done an actual juice cleanse. I’m doing a very short juice cleanse, just three days, but I began the dietary changes to prepare for the cleanse about 1.5 weeks ago and once I’m done juicing it will still be at least a few days of easing out of it. So if you’d like to do a juice cleanse I recommend thinking of it as a 2.5-3 week process, not just three days. By taking the time to do the prep and post work it’s a smoother transition for the body and I believe it helps make the results longer-lasting instead of just using this as a quick crash diet and going back to eating crap afterwards.

It was particularly important for me to try the juice cleanse right now because since moving back to the Boston area I’ve been cheating on my food allergy diet ~2-3 times/wk and I was really feeling my symptoms coming back. By just going back on my food allergy diet (which is not calorie restrictive) for a week I literally lost 5 lbs and my seasonal allergies (congestion) went away . That’s just a hint of how much bloating and inflammation I get when I’m eating foods I’m allergic to. My hope is that this juice cleanse helps me reset things further by giving me a big boost of nutrients and letting my digestive organs rest a bit.

Pre Cleanse Checklist:

  • Most healthy adults have no trouble with a short juice cleanse. That said, if you have chronic health issues or have not had a physical in a while I recommend checking with your doctor before starting any cleanse. It’s also important to understand that these juices often contain a lot of sugar (albeit fast-processing sugars) so those who are diabetic or prone to yeast may need to alter recipes and be careful to monitor sugar levels.
  • About a week before the cleanse (I did 1.5 weeks) cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods. I personally also cut out dairy and gluten (among other things) due to food allergies. You can wean yourself off things like caffeine to make the transition easier, but I really encourage you to get off it before juicing.
  • Pick a time for the juice cleanse when you can take it easy. There really isn’t much protein or fat in the juice diet so it’s recommended to stop any intense physical activity for the three days that you’re cleansing.
  • Consider taking supplements to support digestion while cleansing. There are several options and you may want to check with a nutritionist to see what’s best for you. I take milk thistle, chlorella, acidophilus, and pancreatic enzymes for digestion, and I also take flax seed oil because my body really doesn’t do well without a healthy fat intake. For those of you doing a juice cleanse in prep for a liver cleanse you would want to skip all fats.
  • Budget. As you can see below in the “Shopping” section, this involves buying A TON of fresh fruits and veggies. Depending on the time of year and where you’re located, this is most likely very expensive. Save up! My partner and I chose to go all organic and I’m a little embarrassed to admit it cost about $150 per person, not including suppliments.

Cleansing

I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with my cleanse, so after reviewing several options I decided to go with “The Weekend Juice Cleanse” from Dr. Oz and Joe Cross. For those who don’t know Joe Cross, he’s the guy who did “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead“, a great documentary on the benefits of juicing. Now, I’m not a huge follower of Dr. Oz, but I will say that after reviewing the recipes and trying the cleanse (I’m on day 2 right now) they are quite nutrient-dense, they don’t all overload on sugar, and there’s a lot of variety to the juices. Again, these could be used as just really great every-day recipes. The only thing I’m noticing is that the quantity of juice seems like it might be too much for me, but I’ll post again once I’ve completed the cleanse and have a better handle on it. I will say this, I haven’t been hungry on this cleanse yet. It’s SO MUCH JUICE!!

You can grab all recipes and a great shopping list here. I’ll also include each recipe in this post.

Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!
Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!

Shopping List

For 1 Person for Three Days of Cleansing:

  • 12 Carrots
  • 12 Granny Smith Apples
  • 6 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 large Ginger Root (at least 6″)
  • 9 Cucumbers
  • 18 Celery Stalks
  • 42 Kale Stalks
  • 3 Lemons
  • 3 Limes
  • 12 Plum Tomatoes
  • 6 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 6 Cups Fresh Parsley
  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 Large Red Beets
  • 3 Oranges (optional, skip if you have sugar issues)
  • 24 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 18 Clementines, Mandarins or Tangerines

That is A TON of fruits and veggies!

General Veggie Handling Rules

  • Buy organic fruits and veggies when possible.
  • Keeping your fruits and veggies refrigerated will mean your juice comes out nice and cool so there’s no need for ice!
  • Always wash your fruits and veggies before juicing! Juice is raw so it’s important to cold rinse all fruits and veggies and for the root vegetables (i.e. beets) you may want to scrub them.
  • Most veggies do not need to be peeled before putting them in the juicer. It’s really only citrus fruit that need to have the peel removed because it’s bitter.
  • Apples can be put in to the juicer whole (if they fit, I had to quarter mine), though some prefer to core them first since the seeds technically contain amygdalin, which is a cyanide and sugar compound. In small amounts this isn’t a big deal (and you’re not really eating the seeds since the juicer keeps them, but traces could be in the juice), but if you’re juicing daily I would recommend coring first.
  • For peppers, I recommend removing the stem, seeds and ribs as they’re bitter.
  • For lemons and limes I use a hand juicer to squeeze the juice out. If you have an electric citrus juicer that’s an even better option. I just find it’s more of a hassle to peel them and throw them in the juicer than it is to juice the separately.
  • Oranges and clementines/mandarines/tangerines should be peeled before adding them to the juicer. Again, if you have a separate citrus juicer that’s a great option too.
  • The red onion should be peeled before juicing.
  • When adding the leafy greens to the juicer use small batches to not overload the blade and get the juice pusher on fast so you don’t end up with leaves blowing around your kitchen. 😉

Choosing a Juicer

I’m not affiliated with any products, but I can give you my personal opinion that after researching juicers I went with a Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain which has proven to be a good personal juicer (I’ve had it since 1/2012 and it’s still going strong). The benefit is it doesn’t take up a ton of counter space, it’s very easy to clean and it’s powerful. The biggest con I’ve found comes when making large quantities of juice. It stores the pulp in the juicer, so if I’m making a lot of juice I sometimes have to stop and clean it out before I move on. This has made making juice for my partner and myself during this cleanse a little more tedious. Breville does have beefier models (i.e. JE98XL Juice Fountain PlusBJE510XL Juice Fountain Multi-Speed, 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite)  that excrete the pulp to a separate container which makes it easier to make large quantities of juice. I’d really recommend those if you’re making juice for your family.

DITL (Day in The Life) of Juicing

  • Start each day with hot water with lemon and ginger.
  • Breakfast Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Mid Morning Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Lunch Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Afternoon Snack
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Pre Dinner Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Small dinner of just fruits and veggies (I’ll include recipes in my next post)
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Drink a glass of hot water before going to bed.

Notes:

  • Yes, you will have to pee all day 🙂
  • You can make all of the juices ahead of time in the morning but give yourself a good hour to do so. It takes a long time to prep the foods and clean out the juicer. I wouldn’t make juices more than a day in advance.
  • It’s common to feel cold when doing a juice cleanse. It’s always ok to drink hot water in between juices to keep warm. You can also have hot dinners, recipe ideas will be in my next post.

Recipes

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice
Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice (Breakfast)

  • 3 Carrots
  • 2 Apples
  • 1″ Ginger
Mean Green Juice
Mean Green Juice

Mean Green Juice (Mid Morning)

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 Celery Stalks
  • 2 Apples
  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1″ Ginger
Gazpacho Juice
Gazpacho Juice

Gazpacho Juice (Lunch)

This one really does taste like gazpacho. It’s delicious, and when not cleansing if you add some vodka or gin it’d make a mean Bloody Mary. 😉

  • 4 Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 lg Cucumber
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 sm Red Onion
  • 2 cups Parsley*
  • 1 Lime

*I suggest greatly cutting down the parsley if you’re pregnant. Parsley in large quantities is used to stimulate the shedding of the uterine lining (e.g. inducing periods). This is usually done via drinking parley tea so in raw form I’m not sure it would have the same effect but if it were me I’d skip it.

Citrus Inspired Green Juice
Citrus Inspired Green Juice

Citrus Inspired Green Juice (Afternoon Snack)

  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 8 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 6 Clementines (I used mandarines since clementines aren’t in season this time of year)
Sunset Blend Juice
Sunset Blend Juice

Sunset Blend Juice (Pre Dinner Juice)

  • 1 lg Sweet Potato
  • 1 med Carrot
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 lg Red Beets
  • 2 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 Orange (optional, skip if you’re sensitive to sugar, it’s sweet without the orange)

Post-Cleanse

It’s important to be mindful of what you eat when you’re breaking your cleanse. If you run out and get a pizza as soon as your three days are up you will probably get sick. Even if you don’t feel sick, you’re shocking your body and basically undoing what you just worked hard to clean out. It’s recommended to stick with small meals of just fruits and veggies for the first 1-2 days off the cleanse and continue to have at least 1 juice per day. Then I recommend adding foods back slowly and notice how they effect your body. For example, if you stopped eating dairy add that back in, see how it effects you, and wait at least two days before adding back another food group.

The overall hope here is that cravings for unhealthy food (food filled with fat, sugar, and salt) will diminish and with the added nutrients from the juice your body will be healthier and digest food faster thanks to speeding up your metabolism. It’s recommended to continue having at least one glass of fresh juice each day to keep your nutrient level up and your cravings for junk food away.

I’m finishing up my cleanse and my next post will include my personal reactions to it along with recipes for dinners during the cleanse. If you try this I’d really love to know about your experience!