Blogging For School

So I has an assignment in class this week: to present a topic in which pop culture ties to public health, and then to blog about said topic on the class website.  Well, obviously I chose going vegan, but in my post to the class’ website, I fear I may not have been as professional as graduate school may require.  I wrote in my own language, not unlike any post on here.  I’m posting my article below, so let me know what you think!  It’s entertaining, if anything!  Here’s to hoping my professor agrees with me!

You’re a what?  What’s a vegan? Is that some kind of weird new religion?     Until a few years ago, “vegan” was not in many people’s vocabulary.  Sure, we all know about vegetarians.  Vegans take their dietary restrictions to a whole other level, though.  Like vegetarians, they don’t eat meat, but they also don’t eat/use any products coming from an animal.  That means (among other things) no butter, milk, eggs, honey, cheese, yogurt, leather, furs, or even jello!   Diets like veganism and other phytonutrient-dense eating habits have become all the rage among celebrities within the past year or so.  Being a vegan myself, I opted to report on a topic close to home.  Go with what you know, right?  I became a vegan for my own reasons, though much of the public are becoming aware of such eating habits through pop culture icons. Famous vegans like Joaquin Phoenix, Ellen Degeneres, Bill Clinton, and Brad Pitt are bringing the vegan lifestyle to the masses, hailing it as the new “it” diet trend.  In doing this they are bringing plenty of attention to the the 0.5% of Americans already identifying themselves with the title.  Gwyneth Paltrow even released a cookbook of her favorite vegan recipes a few months ago.  Back in February of 2011, Oprah took a vegan challenge for one week, and encouraged her entire staff to join.  Of course, if Oprah does it, it must be the new “it” thing!  Whether these advocates prove the effectiveness of the vegan lifestyle, or the opposers expose chinks in the armor, one thing is certain: veganism and its health benefits have been made popular subject matter and common vocabulary in this country thanks to media intervention.

Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat)was voted “Sexiest Vegan of 2013” by PETA, bringing celebrity status to their cause and making healthy eating “sexy” in one swift move.  With celebs like Carrie Underwood, Anne Hathaway, and Casey Afleck backing veganism, who wouldn’t want to hop on the band wagon?  The media uses their images as well as provocative images of others to draw people in and listen to the vegan hype.  What girl doesn’t swoon at the image of a shirtless Brad Pitt?  What?  He’s vegan?  Where do I sign up?  While Kristen admits her choice was based more on health focuses than animal cruelty concerns, PETA is still able to get their message to the masses with her indirect support for their cause.

Even celebrities such as Steve-O from the popular Jackass television show and films can be found in internet pop-up ads nowadays, directing users to websites exposing harsh realities of factory farm procedures in an attempt to guide them towards a diet consisting of less animal products.  The film Vegucated also exposes viewers to factory farm techniques in an attempt to promote veganism, and does so using humor and a fun premise to lure in viewers.

Okay, so we’ve got celebrity endorsement.  Now it’s time to put some content behind those famous smiles.  You see the pretty, successful famous people getting on board, and you’re ready, too, but you need a little more information.  Documentaries surfacing within the last few years such as “Forks Over Knives”, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, and “Hungry For Change” have become wickedly popular as they help spread the popularity of plant-based diets to the public through interviewing famous researchers such as T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  They, among other medical professionals, explain the medicinal benefits of a vegan (or mostly vegan) diet.  They hail a vegan diet’s ability to halt and even reverse coronary artery disease, startling evidence since the CDC reports a whopping 25% of Americans meet their demise each year in the form of heart disease and coronary heart disease accounting for over half of those deaths.  With this information being delivered through popular media outlets, lead researchers in the field of nutrition such as biochemist T. Colin Campbell gain access to a valuable platform to deliver their critical research to a large population. They are able to advocate for dietary change as a highly effective form of preventive medicine, and with celebrities endorsing health, people are eager to listen.

Is going vegan truly the future we all should be heading towards, or just the next in a long line of celebrity fad diets?  That’s not tremendously important.  What is important is that celebrity endorsement of a plant-based diet has allowed researchers a platform to deliver pertinent and valuable information about food production and health concerns to the masses.  Now that eating healthy is sexy (thank you shirtless Brad Pitt and bikini-clad Olivia Wilde) the population is becoming more engrossed in where their food is actually coming from and how to make better choices when it comes to fueling their bodies.

 

Wellness Wednesday: YELLOW!

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I was approached by fellow health blogger Allison In Wellness Land a few weeks ago about participating in a weekly posting called “Wellness Wednesdays”.  The goal is to highlight a different colored food each week in an attempt to promote the great advice to “eat a rainbow”!  Well, obviously I was on board, but if you notice, today is definitely NOT Wednesday, and last time I checked, the rainbow starts with red.  Okay, so I’m a few weeks late to the party, which accounts for the fact that Yellow is now the highlighted color of the week!  As for my tardiness, that’s all on me.  I woke up Wednesday fully prepared to talk all about the healthy benefits of lemons and lemon water as a part of a daily morning routine, but that clearly didn’t happen.  I received some unfortunate news about an old friend yesterday, and as a result was very distracted. 

Things work out, though.  This morning, I woke up feeling slightly off, and after being at work a mere 2 hours, a headache, clogged sinuses, and a wicked sore throat were threatening to derail me.  School was all but unbearable as I struggled to remain conscious during a 3 hour lecture on disease outbreak and transmission.  By 6 pm, my day was done and I was finally able to focus on getting over this horrendous cold.  

An old boyfriend once told me that the best way to beat a nasty bug like this is to “sweat it out”, and what better way to do so than to sweat this cold out in the sweatshirt he left at my place?  Big, baggy, comfy, and definitely got me feeling like a sauna. 

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Yeah, I may be sick as a dog but I’m still rockin’ the trophy hoodie, don’t deny it! I bet you’re wondering how yellow food plays a role in this.  Well, I’ll tell you!  My go-to flu buster juice just happens to be lemons, garlic cloves, and ginger root, all three of which are very yellow foods with very healing properties!  Mix in some cayenne pepper, and my throat feels so much better.

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I’ve also taken to nibbling on some raw yellow onion, which has notorious anti-inflammatory properties as well as plenty of B6. They are also alliums, which means that yellow onions (as well as the raw garlic I was juicing) are natural antibacterials and anti-fungal foods.  

Hippocrates once said “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  By eating a rainbow, we can do just that, and expose our bodies to a plethora of phytonutrients and vitamins essential to thriving health and a flourishing life! 

Stay happy, stay healthy, and stay juicing!

Back to School: Morning Routines & Juice

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Loving this chill in the air!  Autumn is on its way and my apartment smells FANTASTIC with all these Autumn-y additions!  I bought cloves and squash yesterday and got so excited!  Pumpkin smoothies are just around the corner!  Currently, my entire apartment is smelling like the vegetable stock I’ve got on the stove, and it’s making my mouth water.  If you haven’t seen my post on making vegetable stock, check it out here.  It is so simple and easy, and if you don’t have juicer pulp, you can always save up your kitchen scraps in an airtight container and use those!  That’s what I did today.  I made ratatouille last week as well as some vegetable soup, and had plenty of scraps to make stock this morning.  I also used basil, rosemary, and thyme from my herb garden.  I may never wash my hands again; they always smell so divine after picking fresh herbs! 

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I’ve started to get into a morning routine now that classes have resumed.  For those of you who don’t know, I am in graduate school at Case Western Reserve University pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health.  I like to wake up, shuffle into the kitchen to put the teapot on the stove, and drink a nice, hot glass of water with a lemon wedge squeezed in.  I find that if I do that before anything else, even breakfast or a workout, it really makes me feel invigorated and ready to start the day!  After my lemon water is downed and I’m caught up on important things like Facebook and Pinterest news, I do a 30-50 minute yoga routine.  My favorite place to find at-home yoga routines is here.  All the routines are free, and yoga is my way of creating an oasis in what I know is going to be a crazy day!  Then it’s juice time.

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My juice today was very reflective of this mildly chilly weather.  I also used other vegetable scraps to make it, like broccoli, zucchini, and tomato.  To add a bit of sweet, I juiced the apple cores I saved from a couple of apples I ate yesterday.  Pretty yummy and not too sweet, and very green!  Not to mention, the perfect fuel for my studies!

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For those of you resuming classes, may the curve be ever in your favor!  For everyone else, keep doing what you’re doing!  Just because the weather is changing doesn’t mean it’s time to slack on your health!

Stay healthy, and stay HAPPY!

Why I’m Vegan

Veganism entered my vocabulary one year ago on 1 July, and fully infiltrated my life on 18 February, 2013.  People ask me DAILY why be vegan?  6 months in, and I think I have finally formulated my reasons into words.  SO many people, family and stranger alike, have determined my reasoning for adopting a vegan diet, and I just want to stop them and say “Hey! It’s MY reasoning, not yours!” I thought that this week, it might be a good idea to explain what exactly those reasons are, in MY own words!

Yeah, yeah.  I know how it looks.  I’m a little girl in thick-rimmed glasses who rides her cruiser bike to work (almost) every day to the Humane Society where she hugs puppies and cuddles kittens and, you know, basically saves the world.  People who see that surface image are like “Yeah, it makes sense; what a vegan/hippie/pretentious weirdo.”  And I get that.  A year ago, I would have thought the same thing.  Heck, 6 months ago I would have thought the same thing!  The thing is though, my decision to go vegan actually wasn’t fueled by my career.  Whether I knew it or not, my new dietary lifestyle change was set in motion 6 years ago, arguably even longer than that!

I had been a figure skater my whole life, and once I decided to focus on school and cease training, I needed another fitness outlet.  Skating had taken up a lot of my time, and I really enjoyed the prolonged fitness experience I had grown used to since age 2, so naturally, I fell into long distance running.  I wasn’t on any teams or anything though; I just ran for me.  I thought when I stopped skating, I would be able to relax my strict diet a bit, but soon discovered if I wanted to continue running, that could not be the case.  I became very interested in nutrition and soon began eating healthier than I did even in the midst of competition season when I skated.  I was even a vegetarian for about 6 months.

About a year later, I began developing a moderate aversion to dairy.  Now, I don’t think it had anything to do with my diet, since it happened while I was eating a hearty amount of cheese, yogurt, meats, butter, basically all things animal.  For some reason, though, my body had had enough and called it quits.  “Have no fear!” my mother told me.  Her friend had been buying this stuff called soy milk for her family for years, and she raced over to snag some for me.  It was alright.  I loved drinking a huge glass of milk with my PB&J though, and soy milk was so NOT the same.  Dairy milk wasn’t an option anymore, though, and so I adjusted.

I came to LOVE soy milk, and even brought the craze to my sorority sisters when I left for college.  Many of them still drink non-dairy milk to this day, even though they aren’t lactose intolerant!  Sharing this healthy alternative with others made me feel so good inside!  After a couple years of eating dining hall dinners and Taco Bell (oh, the life of a college student), I decided to start doing more cooking of my own.  My mother and father had always cooked meals from scratch for my siblings and I growing up, so I was used to fresh ingredients and ready to get back to my roots!  I was still eating meat and just as much dairy as I could manage (I wasn’t giving up cheese for ANYTHING!), but the recipes my parents each gave me were mainly vegetarian, or had a vegetarian option.  I cook many of them today in my “vegan life”!  Again, my sorority sisters took notice and I was able to turn them on to healthy meals and tasty home cooking, and again I felt really good about it!

By the time I graduated, I was dating someone who just wasn’t as passionate about health as I was, and began to fall back into the frozen-dinner/processed food coma.  One hot summer day though, we were in our room watching Netflix, trying to avoid the heat, and he flipped on a documentary about some guy who drank a bunch of juice and lost weight.  I assumed it would be entertaining and probably pretty funny (we had never heard of juicing), and by the end of it, my then-boyfriend was on amazon ordering himself a juicer.  That was the most passionate I ever saw this TGIF frozen appetizer veteran ever get about his health, and my enthusiasm was renewed!  I began delving into the world of juicing, and even started this blog to document my first juice fast!  Together, the two of us survived our ten-day juice fest, and we were on cloud nine looking at our accomplishment!

Life soon resumed though, and the frozen dinners crept back into our groceries within the month.  While he saw the juicer as a fad, I saw it as an opportunity and a renewal in my passion for health.  Even though we didn’t work out, I have to give the guy credit for firing my passion.  Research into juicing quickly led to vegan articles which led to information supporting a whole food, plant-based diet, and I never would have gotten here without that.  The pros kept piling up, and it wasn’t long before I realized there weren’t a whole lot of reasons to not be vegan.  We lived together for another six months after our initial juice fast, and I began an attempt to transition to veganism.  It wasn’t met with enthusiasm though, since he wanted burgers for dinner instead of “that weird kale thing”.  The day I signed the lease to my new apartment was the day I went fully vegan, and I never looked back.

That was in February.  I was wary of calling myself a “vegan” though, because I was afraid of what kind of connotations that word carried (I always thought of vegans as weird hippie folk carrying guitars and walking barefoot), and above all else, I was afraid I would mess up and cheat on accident (label reading is tricky at first!)  I didn’t fully feel comfortable with my eating habits to identify myself as a “vegan” until two months later.  I’m so silly!  Health isn’t about perfection; it’s about progress!  You’ll hear me say that a lot.

Though the relationship that cultivated my vegan interest failed, it was in no way due to my choice of diet!  Come on people, no one ever broke up over beets and quinoa.  My friends always ask me if I feel I need to meet a fellow vegan, or if I would ever be able to date a carnivorous milk-drinking man again, and my answer is, of course!  I mean, health is OBVIOUSLY at the forefront of my interests, so I want to surround myself with people who also are health-conscious and active, but that doesn’t mean I need to shun the cheeseheads of the world!  Now that I have a little more experience and knowledge under my belt about how to live and eat a vegan lifestyle, I think it would be absolutely possible to coexist with someone who ate a different diet.  While veganism was something that just “clicked” with me, I understand that other people don’t want to eat like that, and I’m okay with it.

I’m not some crazy animal rights activist.  I’m not going to hold hands around a tree and throw red paint on fur coats.  I don’t wear long gauze skirts and bandanas while weaving flower wreaths in the middle of a field.  I know I work for an animal welfare agency, and the anti-cruelty aspect of veganism isn’t ignored by me, but I won’t deny that I one hundred percent chose the vegan route for health reasons. I’m lactose intolerant, and the majority of my grad school research has focused on adverse effects of meat consumption, so veganism works out pretty well for me.  And seeing as I’m currently in the midst of working towards my Master’s in Public Health, such a health-conscious lifestyle definitely suits me! You won’t hear me criticizing others for noshing on steak tips or reveling in a gooey grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup though.  Trust me, I stuff’s delicious!  I do this for me, and no one else.

Whew!  I hope that gives a little bit of insight into my reasoning for becoming a vegan and how I turned into a total Juice Junky!  After reading this, it’s no surprise this dog-walking MPH student’s a vegan, but not for the reasons you might think at first glance!

Stay Healthy!

-Kate

Clean Eating Cleanse Wrap Up: Eating Clean On The Go

All right!  The 10 day Clean Eating Cleanse ended yesterday, and for the last four days of it, I was on the road.  No kitchen and no farmer’s market-stuffed fridge to grab meals from.  How in the heck did I do it?  

Well, I made sure I stayed plenty hydrated.

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I also went to fresh-friendly places, like Mongolian BBQ!  I picked out all fresh veggies like snap peas and broccoli and sprouts, and had the grill masters whip up a delicious stir-fry of vegetables!

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I also made sure to get my work out in!  Running and lifting with old friends was the perfect way to switch up my routine!  A couple runs at the park, and of course a stop by Planet Fitness to get my Lunk on!

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I spent quite a lot of time in the car this weekend as well, and my favorite healthy “fast food” is Chipotle!  I wasn’t mad about it!  Black beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes, salsa, and a big hunk of guacamole! yummmmmmmm.

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I can’t tell you how refreshed I feel after 10 days of unprocessed, homemade meals.  Yes, it was a bit more time-consuming, but I’d do it again in a heatbeat!  Our bodies need to be nourished, and the closer we can get to natural, fresh, REAL ingredients, the better.  As I found out this weekend, those foods can even be found on the go.  I even was able to get fresh juice at a Jamba Juice at the mall!  I can’t wait to incorporate these delicious whole-food recipes into my regular meal plans, and continue experimenting with more!

Day 6- Clean Eating Cleanse: Stuffed Green Peppers

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What?  No post yesterday?  I know, I’m sorry!  Yesterday was an absolute whirlwind, and I did not stop moving until about 11 o’ clock last night.  It was a kitchen scrub-down kind of day, so I mainly juiced yesterday and focused on the cleaning to be done.  I did get in a solid 3 mile run though, so not too shabby!

Tonight however, I did get into the kitchen to make a little magic!  I diced all my veggies and, after nearly losing a thumb, got down to business and cranked out some KILLER stuffed green peppers! Just to be clear, this wasn’t “mama’s home cooking” stuffed green peppers.  I don’t know how your mama made it, but mine threw in plenty of beef, cream of mushroom soup, and white rice.  I don’t think I have any of those ingredients in my kitchen right now.  I’m on a CLEAN EATING CLEANSE for crying out loud!  I did the next best thing, though.  Quinoa, cooked in homemade vegetable broth.  Garlic, onions, celery, and chopped kale.  Plenty of cumin and just a teeny bit of nutritional yeast.  Oh yeah, now we’re in business.  Tasty AND clean-eating approved!

Side note* It makes things a hell of a lot easier if you prep your veggies in advance!

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Stuffed Green Peppers (makes 10 servings)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes cut in half + ½ cup vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • A few healthy shakes of cayenne pepper (only if you want it spicy!)
  • ¾ cups quinoa, dry
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 5 green peppers, sliced lengthwise & seeds removed

Cook your quinoa in the vegetable broth and set aside.

Sauté the onion, garlic, and celery for about 5 minutes, and then throw your diced tomatoes and spices into the mix.

Add in your kale, and stir until kale is wilted.  Then throw your nutritional yeast, quinoa & black beans into the mix! Simmer for 10 minutes.  (At this point, if the whole mixture seems a little dry, add an extra quarter cup of vegetable broth to the mixture.)

Preheat the oven to 350 while your mixture is simmering.  It is at this point that you want to add the 3 vine-ripened tomatoes and ½ cup vegetable broth to your Ninja (or blender) and puree the mixture.  Pour contents out onto baking sheet and spread around evenly.

Your pot on the oven should be done simmering by now. Remove from heat and begin stuffing your peppers!  Fill each pepper with a heaping amount of the quinoa/veggie mixture.  I filled 5 peppers (10 halves) with this amount.  Place each pepper onto the baking sheet, on top of the tomato puree.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Enjoy the hell out of your amazing dinner and be proud you made it from scratch!

Not only was my dinner tonight totally healthy (seriously, name ONE thing in this recipe that isn’t good for you!), it was made using all locally harvested ingredients! Minus the canned black beans. It truly was a win-win situation tonight in my kitchen, and the veggie scraps were all thrown into Joey, my trusty juicer, along with a couple apples, to create the perfect cleansing juice!  Now, some of you are probably wondering why the hell am I making 10 servings of this meal when I live alone!  Well, one possibility is that I was extremely hungry… okay, even I couldn’t eat that much, no matter how ravenous I was.  So the only logical explanation is… yep, you guessed it!  I’m freezing the leftover peppers in individual serving sizes so I can have a quick and easy meal on-the-go whenever I want!  Winner winner chicken vegan dinner!

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Green Juice made from kitchen leftovers:
1/2 tomato
2 stalks celery
3 small apples
1 cucumber
1/3 zucchini
2″ ginger
1/2 lemon
3 kale leaves

I would absolutely recommend a clean eating challenge to anyone looking to look good, feel healthy, and just totally RADIATE awesomeness!  I can’t tell you how great I feel, and how empowered I am by cooking from scratch!  Making something out of nothing is a thing of beauty, and it’s just so dang satisfying!  I will admit, tomorrow will be a tricky day since I will be on the road straight after work heading for Toledo.  Eating clean on the road is hard, and fast food or even eating out in general is not my favorite activity.  I may do a post from the road, though, so be on the lookout!

Day 4- Clean Eating Cleanse: Roasted Cabbage and Fresh Salad

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I have to say, one thing I love about a fridge stocked with whole foods is the versatility I have with meals.  Combinations, portion sizes, and prep time are all totally in my control.  Sometimes, I get home and I’m ready to take on that intimidating new ethnic recipe I’ve wanted to try.  Other times, I want to branch out on my own and do a little experimentation.  And other other times like tonight, I just want something fast, light, and satisfying. Cooking from scratch means the fridge is always full, and the possibilities are truly endless.  While I did plan on tackling a particularly interesting recipe tonight, I came home from work mentally exhausted, and was able to throw together a dinner that was much more suited to my mood. 

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Roasted cabbage is something literally ANYONE can cook.  All I did was pre-heat the oven to 375 and toss a couple hunks of cabbage in.  I lightly drizzled some olive oil, and completed the dish with some garlic and onion powder, pepper, and basil.  Pop those suckers in the oven for a half hour and you’re in business!

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I also threw together a salad with produce from my trip to the farmer’s market last Sunday.  Chopped romaine, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, & pepitas with a little balsamic drizzled on.  That’s the stuff.

All in all, dinner took about a 20 minutes to prep (the cabbage obviously took a little longer than that to cook, but prep time was super short!).  Yes, my salad WAS prepared in a pot.  I just threw all my dishes in the dishwasher and had to improvise!  Still tasted amazing though! 

I know foods I post sometimes have lengthy prep times, or seem complicated to reproduce, but hopefully today’s post proves to you that eating a clean, unprocessed diet can be both healthy AND simple! Food is either as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, and tonight I ate a clean, vegan, totally unprocessed meal that I was able to enjoy less than 40 minutes after walking in the door after a long, crazy day of work. 

What healthy meals do you prepare when you’re short on time?

Day 3- Clean Eating Cleanse: Homemade Almond Milk & Juicing with Leftovers

ImageTuesdays are to me what Saturdays are to the rest of the world with normal jobs.  I love my day off, and while it’s usually spent lounging around or moseying around town lazily with friends, I decided that today had to be a productive Tuesday.  I woke up with a mission, and I could almost hear my kitchen’s sharp, anticipatory inhalation as I entered, like it knew it was going to get quite the work out!

To go into detail about every little treat my kitchen spouted out today would take far too much time than I have to document, but in a nutshell, I made almond milk, almond meal crackers, zucchini hummus, vegetable stock, raw avocado soup, and, of course, a big jar of green juice!  Yeah, I wasn’t kidding when I said my kitchen got a workout.  I’m sure my Ninja doesn’t want to hear from me for the next week, and my oven is very thankful to finally get a little rest.

If you don’t already know how, you can read how to make vegetable stock here.  It’s one of those foods that is a totally evolving organism, looking different every time.  I know the recipe I originally posted shows pictures of a deeper colored, reddish concoction, but due to a variation of vegetables (I used pulp from a GREEN juice), this batch came out looking mean and green!  I also threw some more herbs from my garden into it, making my kitchen smell absolutely heavenly.

Now, the soup and the crackers were tasty, but that’s not what I want to focus on.  What I want to do here today is tell you about this discovery I happened upon in my research that I can’t get enough of!  Have you ever made your own almond milk? It’s super easy.  ANYONE can do it, I promise!  It tastes way better than the store-bought stuff, too!

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Almond milk is becoming more and more popular as our population continues to pursue alternatives to dairy milk.  It has entered almost every grocery store you can think of, and is absolutely delicious!  The problem?  Store-bought products like almond milk have additives like refined sugars, preservatives, and other icky stuff that I just can’t deal with while on my Clean Eating Cleanse.  I LOVE almond milk, though, and need it for many of my recipes.  What’s a girl to do?  Make her own, that’s what!  Only 2 ingredients and you’ll be good to go.  Not bad, huh?

Start with a cup of almonds.  Soak them overnight so they get nice and soft and fleshy.

Add the almonds to your Ninja (or VitaMix or whatever!) and pour 4 cups of water in.

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Blend that sucker for about a minute.  In the end, it should look like this:

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Yum.  Frothy goodness.  Side bar: I know my photos show 2 sizes of blenders, but that’s just because I thought the little one would be big enough; it’s SO not! Use the bigger container if possible, so you don’t have an almond explosion on your hands.  That’s one mess you don’t want to clean up! (well, are there any messes you really want to clean up? Probably not.)

Now comes the tricky part.  If you have cheesecloth, it’s not so tricky.  If you’re a broke mother trucker like myself, you’ll have to find a (CLEAN!) cotton t-shirt you’re willing to part with in order to strain out the almond pulp.  I used an old cotton dress:

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Line a bowl with your cheesecloth (or t-shirt, or dress!) and pour the mixture in!  squeeze the fabric to get all the water into the bowl.  Voila! Houston, we have almond milk!  Some people choose to add a bit of honey to their milk, but I’m a “less is more” kind of lady, so I keep it as is.  Make sure to store in an airtight container and use within the week!  Save the almond pulp.  There are so many awesome recipes that call for it, and it’s really expensive in stores!

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Now, in true “juice junky” fashion, let’s talk about my morning juice!  Today I juiced cucumber, celery, grapefruit, ginger, kale, and leftovers.  What are leftovers, you ask?  Well, I had vegetable soup last night, and I saved the ends of the carrots I chopped, the base of the celery stalk, even the top of the onions and green peppers I chopped.  I don’t believe in waste, so I threw it all into a Tupperware container until this morning, when it all went into my tasty breakfast! It turned out pretty great!

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Have you been cooking from scratch lately?  What other kitchen staples would you like to learn to make at home?  I’d love to do some more experimenting!

Day 2- Clean Eating Cleanse: Banana Shake + Green Juice

Let’s hear it for Day 2 of the Clean Eating Cleanse!  Things are going great!  I started the day off right with a mug of hot lemon water and a solid half hour of yoga.  I swear, that combo is better than coffee.  It never fails to leave me energized, invigorated, and ready to get the day started! Breakfast was out of this world.  I made a banana-oat smoothie, one of my go-to recipes.  Only 3 ingredients!

bananaoatshake

  • 3 bananas, sliced & frozen
  • ¾ cup water (or almond milk if you prefer)
  • ½ cup oats

Blend and enjoy!

What I love about this breakfast recipe is that it is so simple, and yet so satisfying!  It’s become a favorite of mine, and has become very popular with friends and other followers I have recommended it to.  Packed with protein and carbohydrates, this ice cream-like concoction seems more like dessert than a satisfying breakfast.  Seeing as I work in a job which requires a decent amount of physical labor, you can believe me when I tell you that it filled me up and carried me through my morning’s work demands.

Sticking with my goal to substitute one meal per day with a fresh juice, I brought a tasty green juice to work with me as my lunch.  I love not having to pack a lunch in the mornings, and instead just throw a jar of juice into my bag and know I’m good to go!  I like to eat lunch in a lounge with free-roaming cats meandering around, and little Emma found her way over to me and my juice.  I guess even cats love my juicing!

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Fresh vegetable juice is so full of micronutrients, I can almost feel the rush of nutrition as my body absorbs it!  Kale is, well, a superfood, and I can say I really do feel amazing after eating it or juicing it!

Dinner was a water-based vegetable soup full of carrots, onions, turnips, garlic, celery, and lentils.  SO deliciously filling, and with fresh rosemary and thyme from my herb garden, my apartment smelled AMAZING.  Yeah, you’re welcome neighbors!

Once I let this dinner digest a bit, it’ll be back to the kitchen to prep veggies for tomorrow’s meals.  I can’t wait to share more great juicing and recipe finds with you all! Tomorrow may be a bit more of a struggle since I won’t have work to occupy me; I’ll probably be eyeing the Earth Balance and Vegenaise like no other in my fridge.  I can do this, though!  Honestly, I’m really excited for another banana breakfast shake tomorrow morning!

 

Stay clean, stay healthy!  Happy juicing!

 

 

Clean Eating Cleanse- Day One

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Hello all! I hope everyone had as great a Sunday as I did!  Fresh food, great friends, and some little ducky friends wanting to swim with us in the waves!  Today was Day One of the Clean Eating Cleanse, and what better way to get excited about clean eating than heading to the farmer’s market for a little local produce? For me, farmer’s markets are heaven.  I’m like a kid in a candy shop.  Good thing I brought reinforcements!  My friends are good for many things, including carrying my bags when my eyes are too big for my strength!  I had everyone helping lug my treasures back home, and they were amazed when it all fit in my kitchen.  Check out my swag! (Yes, I did use an empty six pack to hold my lettuce!)

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I felt really good today, but that’s not to say I didn’t have my moments.  It hit home today that just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  I met up with friends at the water park and had to decline snow cones, chex mix, and french fries.  So upsetting!  That’s not to say I didn’t have fun though, and I had my banana shake with me, which pretty much tastes like ice cream!  Even though I fell asleep in the sun and got some pretty dark tan lines bordering on a crispy burn, I had a blast.  How can anyone not have fun on a day they get to spend NOT working and splashing in a wave pool all day?

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Once safely home and away from the temptations of onion rings and Coca Cola, I began food prep for tomorrow.  It’ll be my first day going to work while on this cleanse.  I can’t wait to share my green juice recipe with you tomorrow, and the banana oat shake I’m planning on devouring for breakfast!  I hope you’re all prepared!