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Friday, March 6, 2015

To Juice or Not To Juice

The concepts of both smoothies and juicing have a bit of controversy attached to them, especially in the whole-food plant-based eating community.

Just do a google search about the downsides of smoothies and juicing and you will read all manner of horrors about blood sugar spikes, how you need to chew your food to get digestion off to a good start, etc.  You will find an equal amount of postings about how juicing will save your life and cure cancer and more.

Like most things in life, the truth for most of us probably lies somewhere in between.

This winter, I wanted to ramp up our nutrient levels and was also looking for a solution to the difficulty of getting enough greens and fruits into my omnivorous husband.  He does pretty well here at home, but doesn't eat breakfast and I worry about him getting enough nutrients to help balance the demands from his high-stress job, so I re-kindled my old habit of sending him out the door with a small smoothie.  In the winter months, and this year we have had some serious winter here in Ohio, it is sometimes hard to down a smoothie; they are quite cooling and I've not had great success in making a green drink in the Vitamix.

I decided to look into juicing and after a little bit of research, in uncharacteristic fashion, quickly pulled the trigger on a purchase.  I opted for a masticating juicer vs. a centrifugal juicer.  I like the idea of no blades and watched a couple of videos and settled on the Kuvings, deciding it would be fairly easy to clean.

[ For a quick explanation of the basic differences between masticating juicers & centrifugal ones, see:   http://cookingequipment.about.com/od/reviewsrecommendations/f/Masticating-vs-centrifugal-juicer.htm }




Here is my Kuvings.  Juice is coming out on the left and pulp coming out on the right.





The Kuvings does a great job for me and I love that I can use up produce that I might not otherwise get to.  I've made a variety of juices now, mango and spinach, apples, oranges and romain and of course, various combinations with that nutritional power food, kale.  

The idea of throwing out all of the remaining pulp was too painful for me the first couple of times I juiced (I have since gotten over it :).  I tried making muffins:







and crackers....





....with only moderate success.

My best efforts came when I juiced the veggies separately, and used predominately veggie pulp in the crackers.


Pre-baking

I kept it pretty simple.  I added some additional moisture to the pulp....(Ground up raw sunflower seeds soaked in the Vitamix and then blended into seed milk), a bit of ground golden flax seed, sea salt and some whole-wheat flour.  I added a few spices, mostly granulated garlic.

Crackers after baking on the pizza stone 

 I believe total bake time (375 oven) was about 20 minutes.  Time will vary according to thickness of dough; I rolled it out thin as I wanted more of a wheat-thin type cracker.  I left the stone in the oven after turning off until oven cooled and I think that helped with the crispness factor.

These crackers came out very good and the mix goes together quickly.  I will definitely be making them again.

As for the juicer itself, I've only had this one, so can't make a comparison, but it is not that big of a deal to clean up, which I hear is the main deterrent to people actually USING their juicers.  I'd say it takes me no more than about 5 minutes to disassemble and clean.  It goes back together quickly too; I am not mechanically oriented and there is a small learning curve for reassembly, but it is a good design and not difficult.

{For more info on Kuvings, see here:  http://kuvingsusa.com/

I got the silent slow juicer similar to the model pictured here:

http://kuvingsusa.com/01product/product_view.asp?model_code=SC%20SERIES%20BLACK&page=1&category1=A001&category2=&keyfield=&keyword=&totalKeyword=&menu=A001 }

As for juicing, it has become a regular habit now, and I typically juice once or twice a week.  I can send the love of my life out the door with a fresh juice a couple of days a week (we usually consume what I juice in two days) and that feels very good.

It is too soon to tell if I am cured of anything or how my health has been impacted, but my energy is good and I usually am dragging at this time of the year, craving the spring, with depleted Vitamin D reserves.

And, the juice is delicious.

I'm still craving the spring, but that'll come on Mother Nature's terms.  She has her own calendar!

Sue, Juicing in Ohio


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies and Gift Jars, oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year!

I am super excited about 2015.  I believe this will be the best year ever.    I have much to share on the blog and will get back into blogging some more this winter; I've been doing a lot of reading, 'personal' work and feel more hopeful and healed and ready to move forward than I have in a long time.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a recipe I used for gift jars this past holiday season.  I know it is past December, but this is a good one to hold onto or maybe would be a nice Valentine's gift for someone.  Much healthier than a box of chocolates!

I found a recipe for cranberry-pistachio cookies here:

http://www.hungryhealthygirl.com/2014/12/19/mason-jar-gifts-cranberry-pistachio-oatmeal-cookies/
and here:
http://myvega.com/vega-life/recipe-center/mason-jar-gifts-cranberry-pistachio-cookies/





There are actually several listings of this same recipe out there on the web, so I am going to break 'blogger protocol' and put the recipe here.

Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies

Dry Mix:
1/2 C dried cranberries
3 T pistachios, chopped
pinch salt
2 T ground flax
1 1/2 C oats
1/2 C oat flour (I just ground up oats)
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda

Wet Mix:

2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup nut butter
2 T coconut oil, melted (can sub out oil, applesauce or nut milk works well*)
3 T maple syrup (*I did a few soaked dates and this works too, include soaking water)
5 T water

Drop by spoonful onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 15 - 17 mins.

I gave out a lot of these jars this year and I was surprised by the response.  One of my gift recipients is a very non-vegan, very high-processed,  high-sugar eater and she LOVED the cookies and asked for the dry mix recipe.

(Be sure to include ingredient list for wet mix and instructions with your gift).

I am keeping a batch or two of the dry mix in the frig so I can whip up some cookies quickly (could bake as bars in a baking dish), and I want to experiment with different dried fruit/nut combinations.


The dry mix really does look festive with the red of the cranberries.


Happy, healthy snacking in 2015.

Sue, loving the fresh start of a new year, in frozen Ohio

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cranberry-Mango-Orange Ice Cream and 100th post

With it looking like this outside:



...it seems untimely to be thinking of ice cream, but I had some odds and ends to use up in the frig, including a bit of coconut milk, so I thought, aw, what the heck.

First I started with my basic Vanilla recipe....soooo simple:

 --- a few frozen bananas
 --- a few Medjool dates, pitted
 --- tiny bit of vanilla powder (probably 1/8 teaspoon- I LOVE this brand:                   http://shop.hempspread.com/Pure-Vanilla-Powder_c44.htm )
 --- coconut milk (I use canned coconut milk, not the packaged coconut drink/milk)

I don't measure, but there is a feel for what the correct balance is between frozen fruit and milk after making it a few times....too much milk, and it is too slushy (although still yummy) and not enough and well, the Vitamix will scream at you.

Blend all ingredients well in the Vitamix.  I use the plunger continually and aggressively when I am doing this.    If you just want Vanilla, you can stop here and serve as is immediately, or put in a container in the freezer for later (it will have to sit out for a few minutes to soften before serving).

For the Cranberry blend, to the above I added:

 --- a good amount of fresh cranberries, approximately 1 cup
 --- one orange, peeled
 --- frozen mango, approx 1/2 cup.

Blend in Vitamix.  Serve or freeze.

This was very good and I left it a little bit 'chunky', leaving visible bits of cranberry.  I liked the citrus overtones (I may increase the amount of orange or garnish with a few gratings of orange zest) and the tart bits of the cranberry.

Cranberry-Mango-Orange Ice Cream

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100th post.  
I haven't been as active on this blog as I thought I might be this year and have many blog posts started but not finished, that cover topics I want to get on here; I hope to spend a bit more time on the blog in the coming months.

What started out as a tentative chronicle of my journey to attempt a path to a healthier me over 4 years ago, now feels like an important aspect of a true and committed way of living.  Of these changes, I am very proud.  I have many more improvements to make in myself, and of course, no journey of this type ever really ends, but it does feel like a bit of a milestone here in this moment, so I'll celebrate with a bit of ice cream, (followed by some hot tea as it is cold here!)

I hope you are firmly on your chosen paths and enjoying your journeys as well....

Sue, still on the (snow-covered!) path, in Ohio