Thursday, 1 November 2012

32 Days of Juicing Have Come to an End and Why I've Become Mostly Vegan

Well, yesterday was Day 32 of my juice fast and I decided to make it my last day. I made this decision for several reasons.

1.) I was beginning to notice a lack of energy for everyday activities like shopping.
2.) I was hungry ALL THE TIME
3.) I didn't have the energy for exercise. When I did a 3 mile run, I came home, collapsed on the couch, and then fell asleep.

My prideful and competitive spirit wanted me to keep going to my goal of 60 days. It was saying "I'll make it to day 60 if I die trying!!"

However, the sensible side of me knew that my body was telling me it was time to start eating again.

That being said, I have gained a lot from this fast. Or lost, however you want to look at it. I lost a total of 20 pounds on the fast, which is in addition to the 20 pounds I lost after my surgery, so I am very happy about that. I have also gained an appreciation and taste for vegetables, many of which I didn't like at all before, such as beets. This is a very good thing as I'm fairly sure my future will be full of vegetables :p

Now that the juice fast is over and I've lost 20 pounds, the temptation is to go out and stuff myself with junk food. But that's not at all what I'm going to do. The end of this juice fast is the beginning of another journey, one that will hopefully last for the rest of my life. This is a journey of eating for health. This means LOTS of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains; and very limited amounts of animal products (milk, cheese, eggs, meat) and processed foods, especially those high in added salt, sugar, and oil. The book "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman is an excellent book that has done a lot to change the way I think about food, and I highly recommend it! Also, the movie "Forks Over Knives" was very influential in my decision to eat this way. There are many many reasons, with scientific research to back them up, to eat a mostly vegan whole foods plant-based diet. "Eat to Live" and "Forks Over Knives" both do an excellent job of explaining these reasons.

 This doesn't mean that I won't enjoy delicious food, or that I'll be crunching on celery and carrot sticks all the time. Quite the opposite, in fact. I'm finding that when I stop eating large amounts of processed food, salt, and sugar, I'm actually able to enjoy food more, and taste so many more amazing flavors. I enjoy my food, instead of just mindlessly stuffing my face to fulfill an emotional need or a craving.

This also doesn't mean that I will NEVER eat eggs or meat or cheese or milk again. It just means it will be a rare occurance when I do eat them. It means that I will definitely be eating Red Mango or Pink Berry from time to time! :)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Juicing Day 29

Today is Day 29. I'm still juicing. It's hard to believe that I've gone almost a month without eating solid food. Drinking juice is starting to feel normal, although I am very much looking forward to eating solid food again. I've lost almost 20 pounds on this fast so far, which is almost 2/3 of the way to my goal of losing 30.

The ironic thing is that even though I'm not eating, I've been spending a HUGE amount of time in the kitchen - at least 2 hours on most days! Juicing itself takes a good amount of time, at least an hour every other day. The produce has to be washed and cut before being juiced, then there's the cleanup afterwards. We've discovered that the leafy greens have to be juiced slowly and in very small pieces (salad sized) otherwise the juicer will get clogged up; so they take FOREVER to juice.  Yesterday, we all had a treat-we juiced pomegranates, navel oranges, and red grapes that were all on sale at Walmart. Yummy goodness :) I think I was most impressed by the grape juice - it was INCREDIBLY sweet and smooth.

In addition to juicing, I've been cooked and prepping a lot of food for the freezer. I've made a lot of soup recently. Also, we've been finding great deals on a lot of produce that I prep and put in the freezer. Recently I have cooked and cubed or pureed a 25 pound pumpkin that we got for $4; seeded and chopped almost 20 jalapenos that were 50% off; chopped 3 pounds of white onions that were $1; and chopped and cooked bags and bags and bags of mushrooms that were 50% off.

I've also been making vegetable broth to drink on the fast. It's not strictly a part of the fast, but it's still healthy and really helps with the craving for warm, savory comfort food in the cold weather. It's super simple to make-I just throw some onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms in a big pot of water with whatever seasonings I want, simmer it for an hour or two, and at the end, I strain out the vegetables and add a spoonfull of miso. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the broth. Yum! :)
Mom mentioned yesterday that we had a squash in the pantry if I felt like cooking today. (When do I NOT feel like cooking? LOL) I originally thought about making a simple pureed soup with roasted garlic, onion, and squash. However, I started getting more ideas, and made a hearty southwestern-flavored soup with lentils, black beans, salsa, and corn. I tried the broth and it was DELICIOUS! Can't wait to eat it!

Southwestern Squash and Black Bean Soup
1/2 cup dry brown lentils
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 small carrots, diced
1 no-salt added vegetable bouillion cube
9 cups water
5 cloves roasted garlic, mashed*
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno (about 2 peppers)
3 cups cooked cubed squash
1 (15oz) can black beans
1 cup prepared salsa**
1 (8oz) can corn

Combine lentils, onion, carrots, bouillion cube, and water in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes. Add garlic and jalapenos and continue to boil on medium heat for another 10 minutes. Add squash, black beans, salsa, and corn. Simmer for at least 10 minutes, preferably more to allow the flavors to meld. Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream and sprinkle with vegan cheddar. Enjoy!

*If using unroasted garlic, used 2 very finely chopped cloves
**used mild, medium, or hot based on your preference

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Juicing Day 10 and Pumpkin Soup Recipe

I feel good today. I'm down a total of 9 pounds so far =D I'm not that hungry anymore, which is great, but I have to remind myself to drink my juices. I had a beet and tomato juice today and I actually liked it, which is amazing because I used to HATE beets. To me, the smelled like dirt, and tasted like dirt (not that I've eaten dirt before lol). They still smell like dirt to me, but the juice was yummy and sweet. My taste buds are definitely changing! This former vegetable hater is starting to love them <3

Yesterday I made Pumpkin Soup with the pumpkin half that I used for stuffing. The cooking time for stuffing was about 30 minutes, but the pumpkin was still hard, so I stuck it in the oven for another good while, probably about 45 minutes, until it was nice and soft. Then I cut it into slices and peeled the slices, and cut the slices into cubes. I wanted to experiment with the spices in this soup. I know that, of course, pumpkin pie spices would be good, and also that curry would go well, so I combined the two spices. I'm still fasting, so I didn't get to taste test it yet, but it smelled yummy, and Mom liked it.

Pumpkin Soup

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
3 cups water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp.cloves
1/2 tsp.  cloves
2 tsp. curry
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 salt-free vegetable bouillon cube
3 cups cooked cubed pumpkin

Combine the onion, carrots, water, and spices in a large pot. Boil on  high for about an hour, until the liquid is reduced and beginning to thicken. Let cool.

Add the pumpkin to the soup. Puree, in batches if necessary. Pour back into pot. Heat and enjoy. :)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Juicing Day 9: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians!! It's been awhile since my last blog post-my only excuse is that I've been busy.

Here is a quick synopsis of Days 3-8

Day 3. I went for a 30 minute swim. It wasn't as intense as I normally swim, but I didn't want to do too much. Since I'm only consuming juice, I want to make sure that I don't over exert myself.

I'm feeling much better physically today than the past two days. My headache is continuing to improve, although it's definitely still there. However, MUCH better than Sunday.
I was quite hungry, and also just wanting to eat something. But I drank my juice, and had some hot Tazo peppermint tea and got through it. 
Day 4. 
I went for a run as part of the Couch to 5K program. I was supposed to run 3/4 mile, walk 1/2 mile, and run 3/4 mile. But I felt like I could run farther so I ended up doing a solid 2 mile run!! No stopping! The farthest I'd ever done was the one mile run a couple weeks ago! I was suprised that I could have the energy to run while consuming only juice.

Day 5. Things started to get easier. I made a really good apple-carrot juice. I boiled about 1/2 cup apple juice with a ton of cinnamon and added it back into the juice. Soooo good.

Day 6-7. Ran 3.1 miles (5K) in 48 minutes on Day 7!! It seemed to take forever, but I did it! It's amazing when I think that about 7 weeks ago, I could barely run two minutes at a time. 48 minutes is pretty slow, so now my goal is to work on improving my speed by the 5K race on November 16.

Day 8. Things continued to get easier and become "second nature". I was still hungry a lot, but I would just take a drink of  juice and keep it moving.

Day 9 (Today): Well, today was Thanksgiving, but there was no turkey for me! This morning I made a Cranberry-Apple juice which was \AMAZING. Tart and delicious. For Thanksgiving dinner, I made a Pumpkin-Apple-Spice juice and drank that while the family ate dinner. It was kind of strange to not be eating Thanksgiving dinner; but my juice was really delicious, and I savored the delicious smells of turkey and fresh herbs.

I also cooked the stuffing for dinner today. It was a recipe that I pretty much made up as I went along. I didn't taste it, but everyone said it was good, so I'll just have to take their word for it LOL. I did set some aside for myself and I'm going to freeze it so that I can have it when my fast is over :) I still had half a pumpkin left over from my pumpkin juice, so I scooped out the seeds and baked the stuffing in the half pumpkin.

Herb Stuffing

3/4 loaf of whole wheat bread, cut into small cubes
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tbsp. olive oil
 1/4 cup chopped fresh poultry seasoning herbs, divided
1/4 tsp. salt*
1 cup no-salt-added chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup margarine
2 eggs, beaten (optional)
1/2 small pumpkin, seeds removed

*If you are using full-salt stock, omit the added salt.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. 

Toss the bread cubes and 2 tbsp. poultry seasoning in a large bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, celery, and mushrooms, and stir fry until vegetables are soft. Add the remaining poultry seasoning and salt. Add vegetable mixture to bread mixture and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, melt the margarine in the microwave. Add the chicken or vegetable stock and eggs(if using). Pour liquid mixture over bread and vegetables and mix until evenly coated.

Spoon the stuffing into the pumpkin half. If all the stuffing doesn't fit in the pumpkin, spread the remaining amount in a greased glass baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Juicing Day 2

So today is Day 2. Yesterday, Day 1, was very hard. I woke up with a slight headache that progressed through the day to an almost full blown migraine. Around 9 am, we  had a family emergency, and all went to the hospital. Thankfully, I had made juice the night before and was able to just grab it and bring it with me. I worked a closing shift last night, 2-10:30. Of course, there's a lot of temptations working at Starbucks: there's coffee everywhere and it smells AMAZING lol. I really wanted something delicious to eat, and someone even offered me one of my favorite pastries. But I didn't cheat and stuck to my juice and water.

Today I went for my Couch-to-5K run, which I haven't done for almost two weeks. It was hard, but it felt so good to be working out again.Only 61/2 weeks until the 5K on November 16th!! =D =D =D

I'm working again tonight, so I juiced this morning for Tuesday and Wednesday. I made three juices again like last time, 2 liters of green juice, 2 liters of vegetable juice and almost 1 liter of fruit juice.

Left: Green Juice (apples, cucumber, kale, celery, ginger, lime)
Middle:  Mixed Vegetable Juice (carrots, beets, beet greens, red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, ginger, and a dash of sea salt and Tabasco sauce)
Right: Melon-Grapefruit Juice (honey dew, grapefruit, and ginger)

Saturday, 29 September 2012


So, I won't be posting any blogs about food, cooking, and recipes for a while. Tomorrow, I'm beginning a juice fast.

What is a juice fast?

A juice fast is when you consume ONLY fresh, usually homemade, fruit and vegetable juice. Juice fasts last anywhere from one meal to 90 days. I originally got the idea to juice fast after watching the movie "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead". This documentary tell the story of Joe Cross, who went on a 60-day juice fast. He lost a ton of weight and cured an autoimmune disease he'd had for years.

My major goals for this fast are to lose weight, and to have more energy. It would also be amazing if this helped my headaches - despite the surgery, they still occur often, if not constantly. It would also be great if this sped up the healing of my nerves that were damaged during surgery.

My plan is to make enough juice for two days at a time, which is about 4 litres.

This is my juice for Sunday (tomorrow) and Monday

I made 2 liters of green juice (apples, cucumber, celery, swiss chard, lime, and ginger); 1 liter of apple-orange juice; and 1 liter of mixed vegetable juice (apple, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, celery).

So, here goes! I'm excited :)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I'm not exactly sure what it was that made me want to make sushi - it's not even one of my favorite foods. But I had the idea, so I went out and bought the necessary ingredients and made it. And it turned out delicious! I didn't really measure much when I made the sushi, so this blog is more about method than a recipe.

Avocado and Smoked Salmon Sushi
Short-grain brown rice (MUST be short grain)
Rice vinegar
Smoked Salmon

*Bamboo Mat* (not completely necessary, but it makes rolling the sushi a whole lot easier, and they're cheap, between $2 and $5)

Cook the rice according to the package directions. When it's done stir in the sugar and vinegar. For about 3 cups of rice, I used 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Next, slice the avocado, cucumber, and smoked salmon into matchsticks. It may be hard to slice the avocado into matchsticks if it's very ripe, and the smoked salmon will probably not slice that easily. It's OK. As long as all the filling ingredients are in small thin pieces, you'll be OK.

After you've prepared the filling ingredients, cover the bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Place one sheet of nori on the plastic wrap. Scoop some rice onto the nori. The amount of rice you will need depends on how big your nori sheets are. If you fin that they are too big (bigger than your sushi mat), you can cut them in half. Pack the rice on the nori, much like you would press a cookie crumb crust into a pie pan. You want the rice layer to be solid, but not too thick. Cover the entire sheet of nori.

Next, lay our the filling ingredients in horizontal strips along the edge of nori that is nearest you. Then, it's time to roll the sushi. This part takes a little bit of skill, and I kind of fumbled my way through it. Basically, you want it to be like a sleeping bag - small and tight.( This article gives an excellent description on rolling sushi with pictures-the article says to leave a space of rice-free nori and put your filling in the middle of the nori. It doesn't really matter whether you put the filling in the middle or on the edge)

After your sushi is rolled, cut it into 1 1/2 inch pieces. (A very sharp knife is important here!) Serve with soy sauce.

You can fill your sushi with almost anything you want.
Some ideas:
Vegetables: carrots, asparagus, spinach, cucumber, mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers
Fruit: Mango, apples, pineapple
Fish/Seafood*: salmon, tuna, eel, crab (imitation or real), squid, scallops
Cheese: cream cheese, provolone,
Other: peanuts/peanut butter, sesame seeds, wasabi,

*If you use raw fish/seafood, be sure to buy the kind that is specially prepared for sushi. This prevents contamination problems from eating raw fish. 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Grilled Peaches with Almonds

One of the best things about August is fresh, juicy peaches. At this time of year is when peaches from B.C. are available for $0.96/lb in the grocery store - B.C. peaches are the closest thing to local peaches we'll get in prairie land.
A couple nights ago, I wanted to do something a little different with a peach, so I came up with this simple recipe. I called it "Grilled Peaches", although I cooked them in a ceramic frying pan with ridges on it for that grilled look.
Grilled Peaches with Almonds
1 large peach, peeled, pit removed, cut into four pieces
2 tsp. margarine
Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. slivered almonds

Combine the margarine and spices. Melt the margarine in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the peach pieces. Sprinkle the peaches with brown sugar. It's OK to get some sugar on the bottom of the pan - this will help the carmelization process. Turn the peaches every minute or so. Cook until the peach juice/margarine/sugar begins to carmelize on the bottom of the pan. Transfer peaches to a plate or bowl for serving. Add the almonds to the pan and toss for 1-2 minutes, until thoroughly coated with remaining peach juice/margarine/sugar. Sprinkle on top of peaches and enjoy!!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Roasted Potato and Vegetable Salad

Roasted Potatoes and Veggie Salad
Baby potatoes
Brussel sprouts
Red pepper
Olive oil
Desired seasonings (seat salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, chili powder, curry, dill, garlic powder, etc. are some suggestions)
Baby spinach or salad greens
Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Pre-heat oven to 350F.Clean potatoes and cut them into small pieces. Clean brussel sprouts and cut them in half. Clean the red pepper and cut it in small chunks or rings. Spread the potatoes on a cookie sheet. Spread the sprouts and red pepper on another cookie sheet. Brush potatoes and veggies with olive oil. Sprinkle with desired seasonings. Put the potatoes in the oven. Fifteen minutes later, add the veggies and cook everything for another 30 minutes.
While the vegetables and potatoes are cooking, place 2 cups of green on each plate. When the potatoes and veggies are done, top the greens with them. Add about 2 tablespoons of dressing to each plate. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

I'm not sure why, but a few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to make burgers out of portobello mushrooms, so I did a Google search, bought some mushrooms, and came up with these burgers. They're easy, juicy, and super flavorful. Not to mention much healthier than a traditional beef patty.

6 portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems cut off
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Dash salt
6 whole wheat hamburger buns

1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings
2 tbsp. olive oil
Dash salt
2 tomatoes, sliced
12 sandwich pickle slices

To make the burgers: combine 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into each of two large freezer bags. Add 3 mushrooms to each bag. Seal, and shake the bags gently until the mushrooms are covered. Let sit flat for at least 15 minutes.

In a large pan, saute the bell pepper and onion in the oil and salt over medium-high until well done. 

In a separate pan, cook the mushrooms with their extra marinade 5-8 minutes on each side, until the mushroom and dark, tender, and looks shrunken.

Toast the buns if desired. Spread hummus on both sides. Add a mushroom to each bun. Divide the pepper, onion, tomatoes, and pickles evenly among the buns.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

One thing I absolutely love homemade is vinaigrette. I don't think store bought varieties can ever compare! They're super simple, and there is an endless number of flavor combinations you can experiment with. I came up with a simple honey-dijon vinaigrette a few days ago, and it's a great replacement for the store bought honey dijon dressing we were buying.

Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette

Makes 1 1/4 cups, or 20-1 tablespoon servings

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup liquid honey
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pureed garlic

Pour the oil into a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the vinegar. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

NOTE: You can use olive oil instead of the vinegar, but it can't be refrigerated, as the olive oil becomes solid in cold temperatures.

You can also adjust the tangy-ness by increasing or decreasing the amount of honey accordingly.

Nutrition Information
Per serving, 1 tbsp.
Calories: 74
Fat: 6g
Sodium: 59 mg
Carbs: 6g
Fiber: 0g
Protein: 0g 

Monday, 6 August 2012

My first entry!! :)

I've been wanting to have a blog for a long time, but for one reason or another I haven't started one. As you may have guessed from the title of the blog, this is going to be about cooking and food. I eat vegan-ish, meaning I don't eat meat, dairy, or eggs, and I still eat fish occasionally, and I'm not super strict about small amounts of milk, eggs, etc., added in cooking. And I will eat "normal" when I'm at someone's house. I used to think that being vegan is extreme; but I'm finding that it's really not all that extreme. It sound restrictive, but in reality it's opening up a whole new world of food I would never have tried before. Foods that I am, in fact, enjoying.

One of those foods is greens. Spinach, kale, swiss chard, rapini. Several years ago, I ate some cooked spinach, nearly gagged, and ever since then, swore off greens altogether. Last year, I discovered that I like greens if they are sauteed with a little oil and seasoning. Delicious. When Mom and I went shopping last week, we got some "broccoli rabe", also know as "rapini", which we haven't tried before. What is it exactly? Well, it a short dark leafy green with "broccoli buds" on it. After doing a Google search, I decided to saute the greens in olive oil, garlic, and chili powder. I then topped the dish off with chopped kalamata olives and fresh squeezed lime juice. Salty and acidic flavors help soften the bitter taste of the greens. The greens were strong tasting, but good. The only thing I didn't like was that they were a little bit on the tough side.

Chili Lime Rapini 
Total cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

10 stalks broccoli rabe
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. pureed garlic
dash chili powder
dash sea salt
10 kalamata olives, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime

Place the washed and trimmed greens in a pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain, and transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water. Blanching the greens helps reduce the bitterness; placing them in the ice bath stops the cooking process and preserves the bright green color. Heat the olive oil with the garlic and chili powder in a large pan. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the olives and lime juice and cook just until the olives are warm. Serve immediately.