The Juicing Diary
Reflections from the intial 3 weeks of my juicing experience were recorded in a daily journal format that can be accessed by clicking on the link below. In lieu of continuing this format for the 4th week, I wrote an article that describes, the process of and the benefits from, juicing, in a 'start to finish' style. My aim was to provide an overview on introducing juicing into your life.
Following the article, you'll find a few of my favorite juice recipes.
Juicing for health
by Bridget Geegan Blanton
I confess that I am an unsuccessful dieter. In my wake are a number of failed diets. Nothing held my interest past the 72-hour mark because I always found the proposed menu uninspiring. I gave up on diets and focused on the healthy lifestyle approach to eating. I stayed current with healthy food trends and lightened up on fat and carbohydrates in my culinary exploits, but somewhere along the way I developed a penchant for snacking and this lousy part of my diet all but sabotaged my commitment to regular exercise. I wanted more than will power, I wanted true, lasting change. Weight loss coupled with a nutritional overhaul was the primary goal that sent me down the path of juicing, but it was the unforeseen benefits that helped me to stay the course.
In midst of my desperation, I had a brilliant idea... why not pull out that juicer that I had to have a few years back? I had read about the merits of juicing and had big plans for myself. It hasn't seen much action. Somewhere between pulling it out of the box and finding a place for it on the shelf, I lost my enthusiasm. I occasionally used the juicer when I found myself with a huge bag of Valencia oranges, but that was the extent of my juicing acumen. I was finally ready to give it the 'ol 72-hour try. I curled up with my juicing recipe book, 'The Juiceman's Power of Juicing' by Jay Kordich; a companion text to my 'Juiceman' juicer and started reading. I read the testimony by Jay Kordich detailing how juicing saved his health and his life. From there, I worked my way through the recipes. The following day, I set out for the organic produce market and picked up beets, carrots, parsley and apples. I used these ingredients and made my first vegetable juice that afternoon. The flavor was relatively sweet which surprised me because I was expecting it to taste awful.
For too long, I had been unable to maintain any kind of balance nutritionally. I would get it together for awhile and within a few weeks I would slide back into my habit of snacking. I believed that my occasionally, lousy eating habits were entrenched, but I was wrong. I was 48 hours into my juicing regimen and noticed a modicum of discipline emerging as I made food choices throughout the day. It was as if this discipline came out of nowhere. A week into the process and without a doubt, it affected my entire approach to food. Mr. Kordich recommends that we work our way up to six, 8 oz. glasses of juice each day. Personally, I've never hit the six juice nirvana, but I still reap the benefits.
I began replacing my usual afternoon sweet or carb with a juice. A couple of days later I noticed that the volume on my craving for sweets and carbs had been turned down to low. My personal magic number hovers at a total of four juices per day. A citrus juice in the morning followed by two vegetable juices and usually a melon-based juice at night. Not only did the cravings begin to vanish, but I also lost a few pounds along with the bloating that accompanies refined foods. The overall benefit of juicing when done in conjunction with a healthy diet is the restoration of nutritional balance that positively affects all aspects of your life.
By day four of my journey, it had become a regular part of my day and a routine was beginning to emerge: choose a recipe, assemble the ingredients, wash everything and chop it so that it will fit into the chute. If I have greens to juice, I don't waste time removing each parsley leaf from the stem. Instead, I chop off a good portion of the stems and juice what's left with a chunk of vegetable so that the machine runs smoothly. Although I don't think that using organic produce is of absolute importance, I do believe that it matters. It's more expensive and it's not always available. The point is to use organic produce as often as you can. The introduction of juicing into your life does require effort, but the rewards are incredible. I actually do feel better and putting all of this good stuff into my body feels right. When you consider the worthless nutritional value of refined foods and the amount of sugar and fat in our diet, juicing makes excellent sense. These simple, vegetable-based juices take minimal effort to prepare and are nutritional power-houses, that go beyond the best nutritional advice out there. They contain zero refined sugar, zero bad fat and are fuel for our bodies in the most natural state possible.
You're probably wondering what a juice that contains parsley, carrots, beets and apples actually tastes like... the answer is surprisingly sweet and raw; not awful. Introducing the simplicity of a juice in the mid-afternoon in place of that handful of crackers is one of the better decisions that I make all day long. Not only is juicing good for you, but it assists you in leaving behind bad nutritional habits. Two for one! You can't beat that! 'Juicing for health' is the tag that I've decided to give to this process because that is exactly the benefit that I'm walking away with. Bottom line, I wonder why I waited so long to start juicing... it has literally changed my life.
I was recently diagnosed as having the condition of hypoglycemia. After some reading on the issue, I learned that hypoglycemics have an unusually high craving for carbohydrates. I was never successful on the starvation type diets because my blood sugar would plunge and I simply needed to eat something. I do best eating small meals throughout the day, hence the occasional cracker or cookie lapse. I was forever trying to lose those 10 pounds that crept up on me. Through juicing, I was finally able to take off that weight without deprivation. The part I most appreciate about juicing is how it acts to balance my system. Juicing has brought both health and stability to my life. I've actually felt more 'even keel' emotionally as a result of regular juicing.
Are you wondering about the claim touted by juicers like myself who extol the process for delivering a valuable nutritional benefit? I mean, why juice? Why not just eat the veggies and skip the middle step of juicing? Juicing sends nutrients directly into your system. It's easier on your digestive system to receive some of these nutrients by juice as opposed to fiber. Although getting sufficient fiber in a diet remains important, you can increase your intake of veggies by juicing. Juicing allows for an abundance of live, uncooked food to flush your body of toxins; which leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed all at once. This pure food has wonderful health benefits for skin and hair and you become less prone to colds and flu. In lieu of citing a scientific study, I can only offer my own experience as proof. If I looked hard enough I'm sure I could find one. In the meantime, I offer up myself as evidence; i.e. unrepentant snacker turned benevolent juicer.
As a novice, don't worry so much about variety, focus more on creating a juicing routine in your life. Variety will come naturally with longevity. In my own daily routine, I often juice once for the day and make all 4 juices at once. They're stored in the fridge and are ready when I need them. As a sidenote, I don't drink what was juiced yesterday. It's suggested to juice as you go through your day, but my life doesn't always allow for this luxury of time. Earlier on, I was more conscious of the time spent prepping the veggies or cleaning the machine parts or making sure that I had enough produce in my fridge. Today, it's more like making a pot of coffee. I don't think much about it, I just go though the process and move on with my day.
A word on weight loss via the process of juicing... I averaged a loss of two pounds per week because I was able to completely and painlessly cut the nutritionally devoid junk out of my diet. I love to cook and make normal meals each evening for my family. If I'm hungry in the evening, I veto the microwave popcorn and have a juice. You're going to look and feel slimmer after just a week of daily juicing. Juicing cleanses your system and ends the tendency for our bodies to bloat when we're consuming a high percentage of refined foods. After just two weeks into juicing, it had already become such an important part of my daily routine.
Juicing is like all of those efforts that we make on behalf of our health and welfare; when we slip, we can begin again the very next morning. Actually, I believe that the days where you find yourself with your hand in the chip bag not once but twice are, at the very least, educational. You don't feel good like you do when you juice and often, that's lesson enough. Once in a while, we all reach past the parsley aiming for the cheesecake. It's 'OK' to live a little so, enjoy yourself. Once you begin juicing, you never stray far because the benefits strengthen your resolve to stick with the process. The rewards of juicing are so extensive that you'll miss it terribly, even if it's for just a day or two. If you're just starting out and find yourself juicing one day only to abandon it the next; hang in there. Don' quit, re-commit. In time, you'll find your own rhythm in juicing; you'll find a pace that you're comfortable with. Maybe you'll juice more than 3 times a day, maybe less. In the end, just like me, you'll be hooked on juicing because the benefits will amaze you.
There are countless juicers on the market and an equal number of recipe books. My best piece of advice is to simply get started. Do it for the nutritional benefits or for reasons of weigh loss. If you're a gardener, you can toss the cast-off material from your juicer into your compost pile. Juicing adds a much needed dose of simplicity to our diets and our high volume lives. Between the backyard BBQ, the cocktail parties and the gourmet extravagance there's juicing to deliver nutrition and counter balance those culinary indulgences. Go ahead and give it the 'ol 72-hour try.
I've put together a few of my favorite juicing recipes. These recipes and many more can be found in the book 'The Juiceman's Power of Juicing' by Jay Kordich.
For more tips on juicing, check out the entries in the Juicing Diary.
1 orange: peeled and divided into sections
1 one inch think pineapple round
1/2 c raspberries
4 carrots: trimmed of ends and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cantelope: you can juice the rind if you want, but I usually omit it
1/4 of a watermelon
10 ( + or - ) strawberries: cleaned with greens intact and sliced in half
Green Power Juice
4 carrots: trimmed of ends and sliced into 2 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery: trimmed of ends and sliced into 2 inch pieces - celery leaves can also juiced
handful of spinach: unless the stems are long, just use 'as is'
handful of parsley: trimmed of stems
Sweet Beet Juice
4 carrots: trimmed of ends and sliced in to 2 inch pieces
1 apple: sliced into eighths with stem removed
1/2 of a beet with greens: scrub the beet well and rinse greens with parsley in a colander
handful of parsley: trimmed of stems
Have a question about juicing? Want to send an e-mail? Contact Bridget via the contact form below.
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'Whispers on the Wind'
by Bridget Geegan Blanton