Archive for Tips and Tricks
Do you ever have those moments when you feel like you need to get away from it all? No cellphones ringing, no TV blaring, no emails or social networking. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the busy 24/7 society we live in and just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet that nature has to offer. We call this a vacation but actually it’s a detox. The word detox often gets a bad wrap but really it’s just a special treatment that helps a person to stop using a product or substance.
I recently asked on Facebook if anyone had been on a juice detox and whether they liked it and what the results were. I got a lot of different comments. There were those that had done a juice detox and were happy with the results and those that hadn’t and thought it wasn’t a beneficial way to diet or eat. Do I think that juicing is a good way to lose weight? Not really. I think eating a diet full of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables along with nuts, grains and legumes is a better and healthier way to achieve weight lost. Do I think a juice detox has benefits? Yes, I do!
Why am I doing a juice detox?
Most people juice in an effort to lose weight, improve their diet and eliminate the unhealthy foods they currently consume. This is not the case for me. I am at a healthy weight and I already eat a 100% organic plant based diet full of a variety of fresh, seasonal foods. So why do I want to do a juice detox? Bottom line – I’ve stopped listening to my body to give me cues. I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday and mindlessly eat what is on my plate. Often times throughout the week I find myself feeling like I ate too much food. My life is busy and hectic and I’m putting most of my effort into outside influences and I’ve lost focus on my body. I want to give my body a break from the hurried eating routine that I’ve gotten myself into.
The benefits of juice detox?
While my main reason for doing a juice detox is to give me a chance to focus on my body there are other benefits that I’m looking forward to. Often times during a juice detox you will find that after the first day or so that you have an increase in energy, a clearer mental focus and a reduction in junk food cravings. While I eat a very healthy diet I still crave (and often times overeat) my fair share of desserts. A cookie is still a cookie even if it’s made with whole wheat flour and coconut crystals! Clearer skin and relief from chronic health issues are also well known benefits of juice detox.
The side effects?
If juice detoxing is so great wouldn’t everyone be doing it? I certainly don’t want anyone to assume that juice detoxing is some easy thing that you can wake up one morning and decide to do! While there are definite benefits to doing a juice detox, there are side effects as well. As with any type of detox the first few days usually present the same common symptoms - headaches (you’re more likely to experience headaches if your diet contains a lot of caffeine, sugar or salt), nausea, dizziness and sometimes bad breath. You’re also likely to have frequent urination (I drink a lot a water so this is something I have everyday), diarrhea and fatigue (this is a side effect you experience in the beginning, by the end you should have a vast increase in energy).
What do I need to have in order to start a juice detox?
First and foremost – you need a juicer! There are a variety of juicers on the market and picking the right one can seem daunting. Here is an article about the different types of juicers that are available that should help point you in the right direction. I have an Omega 8005 Juicer that I will be using for my juice detox. I currently use my juicer everyday and am very pleased with it. Aside from having a juicer you’ll want to load up with fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of my favorites are spinach, apples, kale, collard greens, blueberries, strawberries and carrots. Skip the bananas as they are not able to be juiced and if you have a sensitive stomach you’ll want to limit the amount of citrus fruits you use.
Juicing vs blending?
You might be wondering if you can still do a juice detox if you own a blender and not a juicer. Technically yes, there will just be a bit more work involved. When you juice your food you are eliminating the fiber from the foods and you decrease your digestion to almost zero. By placing your foods in a blender you are not eliminating any of the fiber and your body will need to digest the ‘juice’ the same way as if you were to eat it raw. To work around this issue you will need to strain the blended juice before drinking any of it. Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove all of the pulp from the juice.
Do I need to peel my fruit and vegetables before juicing?
Generally, if you buy organic produce you can leave the peel intact. Non-organic foods should be peeled or at least washed thoroughly. Citrus fruits should be peeled because the rind tastes bitter and may contain pesticides, but you can leave the white pith. Hard “pit” seeds such as peach, plum, and cherry must be removed first. Apple seeds do contain a small amount of a cyanide compound so I recommend coring your apples before juicing.
Can I make all my juice at one time and store it for later on?
The vitamins and nutrients in juice can oxidize or decrease over time so it is ideal to drink the juice right away. The presence of light and oxygen speed up this process, but you can slow it down by keeping the juice in the refrigerator and storing it in a dark or opaque colored container. Try to use a container that is the same size as the amount of juice you will consume. You only want to open the container once and that is when you drink the juice. It is best to drink the juice within a 24 hour period but it can safely be stored for up to 3 days. You can freeze any leftover juice but make sure to allow for adequate thawing time. Juice should be thawed in the refrigerator and can take up to 24 hours to completely thaw.
Can I use mostly fruits for my juice detox?
Fruits can be great in limited quantities, but they speed up the detoxifying process and can make your detox symptoms (shakes, headaches) feel worse. Just like with any healthy diet you should be consuming a variety of fruits and veggies. I recommend a 70/30 vegetable to fruit ratio. 70% of your juice should be from a vegetable source and the other 30% from fruit.
How many days should I do a juice detox for?
If you’ve never done a juice detox before I recommend starting with a simple 1 day detox. Most detox plans are for 3, 5 and 7 days. These short detoxes can be done various times throughout the year. If you are planning on doing a detox for longer than 7 days you need to enlist the help of a health professional.
A juice detox is not for everyone. If you are under the age of 18, pregnant or under the supervision of a health professional you should not do a juice detox. If you have any concerns always check with your healthcare professional first before making any dietary changes. I am not a medical professional and the information above should not be taken as medical advise.
Here we go!
Starting tomorrow my husband and I will begin a 5 day juice detox. I will be filling you in each day via a video message as to how we are doing. I’ll share the good, the bad and the ugly. If you have any specific questions please feel free to post them to our Facebook page and I will do my best to answer them during my video messages. I’ll also be posting the juicing recipes that we make and drink throughout the week. In the meantime, check out this great documentary about juicing – Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Wish us luck!
Head to your local pharmacy and you will find aisle after aisle of man made pills to help you lose weight, boost energy, enhance mood and improve sleep. Not only are these pills filled with manufactured chemicals and ingredients but almost all contain side effects that are worse than your problem is to begin with! Hippocrates was on to something when he said “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Here are 7 super foods that will help you decrease body fat, diminish the signs of aging, boost your energy, enhance your mood and improve the quality of your sleep.
This root vegetable from South America increases energy by nutrition, not stimulation. For best results use a powder form and add to a smoothie for an after workout boost.
Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and it also contains important nutrients like iron, magnesium, and vitamin E (which helps reduce the signs of aging). Hemp is also a complete protein, meaning it can provide your body with all of the essential amino acids, a definite plus for vegetarians and vegans. Hemp is available in a variety of forms but the most popular are hemp seeds and protein powder. Hemp seeds are easy to include into your daily meals. Unlike flax seed they do not need to be crushed to be effective. You can sprinkle them on just about anything. Toss them on your salad, add them to your breakfast cereal or use them as ‘croutons’ in your favorite soup. Hemp protein is great to add to your morning smoothie or add a couple of scoops to your favorite granola bar recipe.
Fresh Ginger and Ground (dried) Turmeric
These spices help the blood to circulate more efficiently, and thus boost energy. Both are great to add to smoothies and freshly made vegetable juice drinks.
What don’t chia seeds do?! When a chia seed is exposed to water, it forms a coating of gel, increasing its size and weight. Since the gel is made of water, it has no calories. It’s also difficult to remove from the seed, meaning it helps your body to think it’s full without adding calories. The special gel also helps to balance blood sugar. Chia is also one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein. The combination of the chia seeds protein, vitamins, mineral and blood-sugar balancing gel all work together to make sure that you have a steady stream of energy all day long. And if all that wasn’t enough, chia seeds also have age-defying antioxidants and help to reduce your food cravings. You can add chia seeds to just about anything. They are great for baking, adding to smoothies and juices or even sprinkled on your daily meals.
Fresh Leafy Greens
The consumption of chlorophyll-rich, leafy green vegetables, combined with moderate exercise, is the best way to create a biologically younger body. Add a variety of leafy greens to your lunch time salad or better yet, start your day with a glass of fresh vegetable juice made with your favorite leafy greens!
This freshwater green algae is best known for being a powerful energy enhancer and brain booster. It’s also great for reversing the signs of aging, relieving pms symptoms and reducing high blood pressure and high cholesterol. You can find chlorella in many forms but the easiest to use are tablets and powders. Look for them in your local health food store in either form.
Green tea is rich in chlorophyll and antioxidants which causes a slow, steady release of energy over the course of several hours. Look for a tea that uses the whole leaf and make sure to select an organic variety.
Why eat sea vegetables? Well, for one thing sea plants contain between 10-20 times the minerals of land vegetables. In fact, ounce for ounce sea vegetables contain more minerals than any other food group. That means you only have to eat a small amount of them to benefit nutritionally. Sea vegetables are a good source of the minerals iodine, magnesium, iron, calcium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium and zinc. They also contain vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K.
Another good reason to eat sea vegetables is for their anti- inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer (specifically colon and estrogen related cancers) properties. There are also some cardiovascular benefits such as lowering overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. I could go on and practically write a book on the research and studies that have been done showing the health benefits of sea vegetables but there are already a few books out there on this topic so if you are interested you can read up for yourself. Suffice it to say this is some good -for -you stuff!
There are many different species of sea plants that are edible and several varieties can be found in health stores, mostly in a dried form which is perfect for long term storage. Some require a little soaking time before using but they can easily be incorporated into your diet by adding small pieces to your favorite soup, stir fry, salad or sandwich giving you the full benefit of their nutrients. Just follow the directions on the package for prepping the sea vegetables for use. A couple of easy ways I have found to use sea vegetables is when cooking beans add a strip of kombu to the cooking water. This will actually reduce the cooking time and make the beans more digestible. Another way is to use organic dulse or kelp granules or flakes that can be sprinkled over food in place of salt. I found some made by Marine Coast Sea Vegetables that I like.
Some of the most commonly used sea vegetables are:
Kombu: This is a very dark green/black plant that is dried and sold in sheets or strips. You can use it to flavor soup or add to the water when cooking beans.
Nori: Nori is dark purple to black in color but turns green when toasted. Nori is most commonly used to make sushi rolls but can also be crumbled over salads or in soups.
Wakame: Green in color and most often used in miso soup.
Dulse: Dulse is a red/brown color and is great to chop and sprinkle into soups, stir fry or other vegetable dishes.
Arame: This is a good starter sea vegetable since it is milder than some of the others. It’s a shiny brown/black color and can be used as a seasoning or even baked in bread or muffins.
Kelp: Kelp is a good sea vegetable to have in flakes or granules to use as a seasoning or in place of salt. It is a brown/green color.
You most likely won’t want to jump right in and start munching on kelp in place of a tossed salad but try adding a little at a time in every application you can and start enjoying the benefits of this abundant ocean resource in your healthy life.
I love living in Southern California. It’s wonderful being able to go outside each and every day to exercise. Before moving here my husband and I would go out for a 3 mile run and it would be a piece of cake. Not so much in Southern California. Finding a flat stretch of land is next to impossible. It’s hilly here to say the least. When we first transitioned to running here I would see a hill coming up and panic. I would psych myself out before I even made it half way up. A week later, running up the same GINORMOUS hill I made a deal with myself. I would keep my head down and just focus on making it to small points along the way. Once I got to that point I would pick another point not too far off. Again and again I would focus on just getting to that next point. Not only did I make it up the hill but I felt better when I got to the top. Starting out with a healthier lifestyle is no different. Trying to change everything at once is overwhelming and often leads to disappointment.
In this 10 week guide you’ll be making small changes each week. Over time you’ll slowly phase out the bad habits and ease into the healthy ones. By focusing on smaller goals each week you’ll find that changing over to a healthy lifestyle isn’t so overwhelming after all. Some weeks will be harder than others but keep focused and remember – you CAN do this!
WEEK 1 – Drink more water and eliminate soda
Each day drink one more cup of water until you reach the minimum of 6-8 glasses daily. Have a glass of water on your desk, put a bottle in your purse and car and drink up. We all know that chemically created soft drinks are the worst beverage choice we can make so this is the week to say farewell. Start drinking only pure natural drinks, like filtered water, fresh fruit and vegetable juices or green tea. If you’re still craving the bubbly stuff try adding a squirt of lemon to a glass of sparkling mineral water.
WEEK 2 – Out with the fast food and in with the homemade meals
This week we not only eliminate fast foods but we get into a habit of planning ahead. If you used to grab a “McBurger” for lunch, be prepared and make yourself a delicious salad, a sandwich with whole grain bread or even use some tasty leftovers from dinner. Pack it in your lunch bag and it will be ready to grab the next morning on your way to work.
WEEK 3 – Sugar and Salt
Throw out the table salt and replace it with some sea salt and coarse ground fleur de sel or other coarse ground sea salt. Use the sea salt for cooking and the fleur de sel salt for sprinkling on your meals (taste first BEFORE salting). For some, eliminating processed sugar will be one of the toughest challenges. Toss the white sugar and chemically processed sugar alternatives like agave nectar, truvia, turbinado and brown sugar. Substitute instead with raw coconut crystals, date sugar, coconut nectar, maple syrup (grade b or c only) or honey.
WEEK 4 – Cow’s Milk is for Cows!
There are so many tasty alternatives to cow’s milk and this week will be about finding one that you like and working it into your daily diet. Try coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, oat milk or even hemp milk. They are so good that you won’t even miss the other stuff!
WEEK 5 – Fats! The good and the bad.
Trans fats are very bad for you and you might not even know you are eating them! Throw out the margarine, vegetable shorting, non dairy coffee creamer and anything with the words hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats on it. For cooking try using a coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or safflower oil. Stick to ones that are cold pressed, unrefined and organic.
WEEK 6 – Whole Grains
Say goodbye to white flour, white bread and white rice! Not only have they been highly processed but they have almost no nutritional value. You and your family deserve the best – whole grains! Spend some time in the bread aisle of your favorite health foods store and carefully read the ingredients labels to find a truly whole grain bread. You want to look for ones that list simple, organic ingredients like, 100% whole grain whole wheat (If the label just reads wheat flour this is a processed flour and you want to stay away!), water, yeast or salt. When purchasing pasta stick with ones that are made from 100% whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa flour or kamut flour. Again, the ingredient list should be simple and short. Start using brown rice and then branch out to wild rice, Wehani and other fun varieties.
WEEK 7 – Clean house!
This week we are cleaning house and I don’t mean with a vacuum cleaner and duster. It’s time to go through your cupboards, pantry and fridge and toss out all that processed, refined and chemically created ‘crap’ that they market as food. Read the labels and if you can’t pronounce the words or need to ‘google’ to find out what an ingredient is – toss it! From now one you’ll be purchasing and consuming only real, natural and wholesome foods.
WEEK 8 – Go Organic
The last few weeks you’ve been working so hard to rid your body of chemically created, processed, refined foods. Yet one of the leading sources of toxins comes from non organic foods. Buying only organic items will ensure that you are eating non GMO foods and those without harmful chemicals. These days it’s completely possible to eat a 100% organic diet. Everything from fruits and vegetables to popcorn and chips to spices and hair products are organic. Go slowly and as you use up a product make sure to replace it with an organic version.
WEEK 9 – Reduce your meat intake
Most healthy eating principles allow the consumption of organic animal products 2-3 times per week – NOT 2-3 times per DAY! Start reducing the amount of meat, fish and cheese to no more than 2-3 times weekly. Add in more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains to your diets. We have a tons of tasty and delicious vegetarian and vegan meals that you can eat throughout the week. Keeping your diet diverse not only makes it fun but it gives your body a variety of nutrients.
WEEK 10 – Portion size and exercise
Just because you are eating healthy doesn’t mean you get to overeat! Portion control is important and if you’re looking to lose some weight you’ll want to focus on keeping your portions under control. Read the labels and pay attention to serving sizes. If you haven’t already, find an exercise you enjoy doing and work it into your daily routine 5-6 times a week for about 30 minutes. There is no right or wrong exercise out there. Walking, running, cycling, dance or even a fun aerobic program are great ways to start working exercise into your routine.
Congratulations! You made it 10 weeks and should be feeling lighter, healthier and energized! Remember that it takes 21 days to turn something into a habit. Keep up the good work and enjoy the new healthier you!
It’s a new year and many of you are just starting out on our your new healthier lifestyle. This time of year we are inundated with emails about how to get started, what recipes are the easiest to transition into and what foods should the pantry be stocked with. Having a good base to work with in your pantry makes starting out a bit easier. I swear, when my family first started eating this way, I was at the grocery store every other day getting this and that to make meals with. I wish I had had a list of the basics to work with. I now grocery shop once a week, mostly to stock up on fresh produce and I have a stocked up pantry that serves me well. The list below is by no means complete or a one size fits all. You may find that you need to substitute ingredients for food allergies or intolerances. It’s here to provide a base for you to work off of to begin building a healthy and nutritious pantry that will make your transition into healthy eating smooth and seamless.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Garlic Gold Oil (This is a personal favorite of mine – not a necessity but so good to have!)
- A high quality neutral oil like sunflower or grape seed
- Peanut Oil
*When purchasing oils it’s important to look for both an organic and UNREFINED oil
- Balsamic Vinegar (choose a good, high quality vinegar)
- Brown Rice Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Almond Flour/Meal
*When it comes to flour these are the 3 that I use most often. That being said I have a pantry stocked with all sorts of flour – brown rice, quinoa, coconut, garbanzo bean. While I don’t use them on a daily basis I keep them in a sealed container and stored in a cool temperature and they last for a very long time. You’ll find that as you make recipes that call for these different flours that you’ll slowly build up your stock. If you are gluten free make sure have a basic gluten free flour stocked in your pantry.
- Brown Rice
- Whole Grain Oats (Gluten Free if needed)
- Steel Cut Oats (if you are an oatmeal lover)
- Black Beans (canned is fine, no salt added is preferred)
- Garbanzo Beans (canned is fine, no salt added is preferred)
- Kidney Beans (canned is fine, no salt added is preferred)
- A neutral white bean like Cannellini or Great Northern (canned is fine, no salt added is preferred)
Other Canned and Jarred Items
- Diced Tomatoes (no salt added is preferred)
- Tomato Sauce (no salt added is preferred)
- Tomato Paste (no salt added is preferred)
- Coconut Milk (Both Lite and Full Fat are good to have on hand)
- Natural Peanut Butter (no salt added is preferred, make sure there isn’t any added sugars)
- Natural Jam or Jelly of your choice (look for a fruit sweetened brand)
- Soy or Tamari Sauce (reduced sodium is preferred, gluten free if needed)
Dried Fruits, Nuts and Seeds
- Cranberries, blueberries, Goji Berries, Apriots or any of your favorite dried fruits (make sure you purchase unsweetened fruit)
- Cashews, Peanuts, Walnuts, Pecans, Pistachios or any of your favorite nuts (roasted or raw is preferred)
- Flax Seed, Chia Seed, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds or any of your favorite seeds (roasted or raw is preferred)
- For a Grape Nut type cereal try Ezekiel 4.9 Whole Grain Cereal
- For a Rice Krispies type cereal try Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
- For a Corn Flakes type cereal try Barbara’s Corn Flakes
- For a Cheerio type cereal try Barbara’s Hole ‘N Oats – Fruit Juice Sweetened
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- Vegetable Broth (reduced sodium preferred)
- Sea Salt
- Pasta of your choice (there are many good brown rice, quinoa or kamut varieties available)
- Nutritional Yeast
- The spices that you currently use are the same ones you’ll want to stick with. I recommend slowly changing them all over to organic varieties.
Remember this list is just a guide. You’ll find that over time you’ll easily add in your favorite pantry items.
I can’t state enough the importance of buying organic items. Not only is this the only way to get a truly ‘clean’ product but you’ll also be helping to rid your body of unnecessary chemicals, pesticides and preservatives.
For someone that loves garlic as much as I do, I need to have a simple and easy go to roasted garlic recipe. I learned this tip a few years ago and have used it ever since for roasting garlic. It’s simple and easy and makes clean up a breeze!
- 4 whole garlic bulbs
- olive oil or Garlic Gold Oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact.
- Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
- Cut 4 sheets of tin foil into 6×6 inch squares. Place one garlic head in the middle of each sheet of foil and curl up the sides to form a bowl.
- Drizzle a couple tsp of oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated.
- Cover the garlic bulbs completely with foil and place each ‘foil ball’ into a muffin cup.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.
- Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Using a small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
I love eating roasted garlic right out of the oven but it’s also great as a spread. Just mash with a fork and spread over warm whole wheat French bread or Baked Pita Chips.
I think rice is probably one of my top 10 foods, but I hate cooking it. When cooked on the stove top there always seems to be some that sticks to the bottom of the pan or it splatters all over the place and anyone who knows me knows I hate getting my stove dirty (I know, it’s crazy but true). I’ve used rice cookers, but again you get that dry layer at the bottom or it’s soggy. I’ve even tried microwaving it which I admit worked when I ate white rice but not for brown rice. One day when watching my culinary hero Alton Brown he showed a method of cooking rice in the oven. It’s been rice bliss ever since.
- 1 cup rice (any variety of your choice – I used Wehani for this recipe)
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the rice, water and oil in an 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and carefully lift the foil to fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Nutritional info will vary depending on the type of rice that is used.
You can replace the water with vegetable broth for more flavor.