Category Archives: Food

Juice Feast Winter Edition

Juice Feast Winter Edition

Today is the first day of my latest 7-Day Juice Feast, a 7-day juice-only regime following the program designed by Jason Vale . This is my fourth time doing the feast, and if you’re wondering what this is all about and why I do this, then read my previous posts: 7 Reasons Why Juice Feast and Juice Feast in Review.

Although it may seem strange timing to do a juice feast at the start of December (a week of drinking cold juices? brrr), for me the timing couldn’t be better. I initially set aside this week for juicing because for a while now I feel like I’ve been slipping. On my own I’m a superstar when it comes to food. I am also fairly active which means I can get away with eating a little extra from time to time when social celebration or a simple craving calls for it. However, these “times” have become more and more frequent and I’ve lost my focus a little. So I want to get that back and feel comfortable in myself (and in my clothes) again. On top of that, I’ve had a very difficult last couple of weeks following the passing of my dear dog Rocky, which has involved much comfort eating, far too much Prosecco and two Thanksgiving dinners in the process. It’s really time for a reset.

Also, this being the season of Thanksgiving, the Juice Feast offers a timely opportunity to give thanks for the abundance of fruit and vegetables we have available to us. I harken back to my words during my previous Juice Feast Harvest Edition:

I’m trying to make this juice feast not only about ME, but also about a celebration of all that’s available this time of year, and how lucky I am to live in a place where I have access to such beautiful fruits and vegetables, some of which grow right outside my door. The harvest aspect also plays to the “positive thinking” angle of Juice Feast. This isn’t something to “get through”, it’s a treat to my body and my brain.

Positive thinking: so important during these dark days! But unlike the Harvest Edition, when I was very motivated by my lack of goal progress, during this Winter Edition I want to reassess what my goals actually are. I guess I’m ramping up for Yule, a time to contemplate hopes and aspirations for the coming year and figure out how our natural talents can be used for good.

Plus, I can’t think of a better way to brighten up these dark days of winter than by surrounding myself with fresh vibrant fruit and veg, and loads of cheerful tasty juices!

A few of my Juice Feast goals:

  • Finish my Rocky tribute book, “Rocky: A Dog’s Life”, in aid of Hope Rescue
  • Figure out my goals (and rewards!) for Imbolc and the new year
  • Enjoy lots of quiet contemplation and thinking time
  • Get a lot of work done (boring)
  • Write a few blog posts, including my juicing essentials, and a review of the Optimum 600 Slow Juicer which I’ll be using throughout the week.

Several folks are joining me in the Juice Feast, both virtually and in person, some for a few meals, and some for a few days. I appreciate all of the camaraderie. If you fancy joining in on the juicing fun, then do share with me what you’re up to, either here in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

 

Summer Meets Autumn Meets College Reunion Harvest Celebration

Foraged Fruit Jelly with Strawberry Sorbet

When you live outside of your native country, it becomes a very rare treat to spend time with someone you have a long history with. For that reason and more, it was wonderful having my dear friend Suketu over for the weekend. I know Suketu from undergrad at University of Illinois – we met in math class and bonded over our mutual appreciation for vectors and Dana Scully. Suketu was in Helsinki for a conference and decided to come over to England since he was in “the area”. He only had a few days to spare so I’m incredibly grateful that he chose to spend two of those days here at Orchard Cottage.

photo.JPG

An occasion such as this required a celebration. Suketu was very keen on the nature aspect of where I live, and he really lucked out because the weather this weekend was phenomenal: sunny, and warm. Perfect BBQ weather, warm in the sun but with a slight breeze signalling that autumn was on its way. So we decided to pay tribute to his visit and to the changing seasons with an ultimate Summer Meets Autumn Harvest Celebration, sourcing as much of our meal as possible from stuff grown on the farm.

Borage

To that end, we went out for a harvest blitz, gathering blackberries from the hedgerows, picking borage flowers, gathering what remained of the summer tomatoes and swiss chard. I also had homegrown strawberries in the freezer from early summer we could play with.

harvest1

Other accoutrements came from the next-best-thing-to-homegrown: The Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester, where we found big bunches of basil, beautiful lettuces, ginormous cucumbers and their irresistible cherry tomatoes. Even the flour came from Shipton Mill just down the road. So not only did I have this still-cool-as-hell-after-all-these-years lifelong friend in town, but we also had these phenomenal ingredients to work with. Celebration indeed! So what to do?

Chard Harvest. Charvest.

We took some inspiration for our menu from the summertime collection at Great British Chefs. Suketu LOVES pizza, and since the weather was right for a BBQ, we decided to go with their Barbecued Garden Vegetable Pizza using my own garden vegetables as the toppings. I will definitely be coming back to this pizza base recipe again – it was easy to roll out, had a beautiful flavour and cooked perfectly on the bbq. Keeping the pizza bases small (less than 12cm) was definitely a help here. We topped the pizza with basil pesto, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Simple but totally perfect.

Pizza with Pesto & Homegrown Tomatoes

Suketu liked it so much that he wanted to tip the whole board of pizza straight into his mouth.

"Pour all the pizza straight into my mouth"

To go with our pizza, I made Suketu’s other favourite food: pasta, but not like he’s used to. I did the whole courgette noodle thing, tossed with a simple tomato sauce made with garlic and black olives (another one of Suketu’s favourite foods).

Courgette Pasta

To drink: a Pimms-inspired infused “Vitamin Water” with fresh mint, cucumber, blackberries and borage flowers. I’m definitely going to be doing this water infusion thing more often.

DIY Vitamin Water

Dessert was kind of amazing. I think every special occasion requires that something be gelatinized, so we went for this Elderflower Jelly with Summer Berries and Strawberry Sorbet, which gave me a chance to add my homemade elderflower cordial to the mix of homegrown goodness. Yowza, this dessert was amazing! The strawberry sorbet in particular was extra special, sublimely scoopable which is more than I can say for the other sorbet ice blocks I’ve made. I credit the inclusion of liquid glucose in the recipe, a total revelation. The jelly itself was also pretty darn special – I loved the look of the blackberries suspended in the clear jelly. And check out our borage flower garnish. So pretty!

Foraged Fruit Jelly with Strawberry Sorbet

We took advantage of this rare moment of August sunshine to have our harvest meal al fresco – it was so warm we could barely eat our sorbet fast enough before it melted. A high quality problem for sure.

Foraged Fruit Jelly with Strawberry Sorbet

Also a high quality problem: great friends who come and stay and help you make a mess of the kitchen. Love you lots, Suketu. Hope you fulfill your promise to come again soon and stay for longer. Happy harvest! Here’s to Autumn!

If you want to try out some of the dishes we made and have your own Celebrate All of The Things Menu, you can find the recipes on Great British Chefs’ website:

Juice Feast: Harvest Edition

First of the Orchard Cottage Apples

Last Saturday I embarked on my third “Juice Feast”, a 7-day juice-only regime following the program designed by Jason Vale (you can read more about this in my previous post, Juice Feast in Review).

Having done this twice before, I just wanted to share a few observances so far from round three.

Why Juice? Why Now?

Why does anyone go on a “juice fast” (hefty note: this is not a fast!)? To look better and to feel better. Like many others who have juiced before me (!) I too have become increasingly bored with feeling “gunky”, and also increasingly frustrated with my own inability to achieve a few personal goals. I needed a “bump start”, but [definitely] not of the alcoholic kind, rather of the positive, life affirming kind. After my first juice feast last year, I felt better than I’d felt in a LONG time. So I’m at it again, chasing that high.

Passed the halfway point of my #JuiceFeast. Celebrating with one of my favourite blends: apple, pineapple, spinach, wheatgrass, lime, celery, cucumber & avocado.

But there’s an added spin on it this time around. It’s August, and we’ve just celebrated Lammas, the first harvest festival. The apple orchard is in full swing. My Riverford veg box is frequently laden with my favourite fruit and vegetables. And the nearby Organic Farm Shop is alive with their beautiful homegrown cucumber, carrots, spinach and more. So I’m trying to make this juice feast not only about ME, but also about a celebration of all that’s available this time of year, and how lucky I am to live in a place where I have access to such beautiful fruits and vegetables, some of which grow right outside my door.

The harvest aspect also plays to the “positive thinking” angle of Juice Feast. This isn’t something to “get through”, it’s a treat to my body and my brain. I say this, but in truth, this notion of being good to myself doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I am the worst when it comes to self doubt and self deprecation, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s part of why I’ve felt so frustrated with my goal progress as of late. It has nothing to do with food or exercise, it’s all about the mind, man!

So when work hasn’t interfered, Juice Feast has been all about mindfulness. Visualisation. And doing meditative harvesty things like picking blackberries and de-stalking elderberries (which I’ll be preserving as wild fruit wine, which I know sounds totally contrary to Juice Feast, but it makes sense to me!).

Picking green elderberries while I walk. Yes, I have a plan! #picklecult

I’ve also been using this as an opportunity to push my limits with the juice. On Day 2 I did an 11+ mile hike up Black Mountain in Wales (thank you, Jane and Jimmy) and felt totally fine the whole way. I did have an extra juice that evening, followed by an epic 9 hour sleep. Day 3, the legs were a little stiff but I managed to get out for some foraging and dog walks. Today I had my first CrossFit session of the Juice Feast; it all went as usual – I struggled with rowing and had fun on the rings, nothing abnormal there. I’ll be curious to see how I go the rest of the week. I did manage a “PR” (Personal Record) on the overhead squad (which didn’t take much – see, there I go with the self deprecation again!) and would love to PR on something else before the week is through.

Jane and I on Black Mountain

Finally, I’m also using this as an opportunity to test out my new Froothie Optimum 400 Slow Juicer and Optimum 9400 Blender. I’ve already posted a review of the blender. Watch this space for a review of the juicer, which is competing for counter space next to my trusty Phillips juicer, the thing that got me into juicing in the first place. Who will win in their battle royale?

Using the #juicefeast as an opportunity to try out the #froothie Slow Juicer. Juice it does. Slowly (and that's a good thing - maximum extraction action!).

Closing thought: this Juice Feast has been pretty easy – third time’s the charm? I’m loving the clear headed feeling I get when I do this – productivity at last! And since I’m not cooking, I have loads of free time to do fun Lammas-y things like forage, make plum wine, work on some make-more-money projects, write and walk up big hills!

Black Mountain walk, Brecon Beacons, Wales

Not Quite Summer BBQ

It takes three people to make mayonnaise. One to whisk, one to pour, one to dance.

“I’m very happy to have entire day revolve around BBQ.” A great statement from my friend AJ, who joined me with Keith and Donovan last Saturday for a day of foodie adventure in the Cotswolds. Our mission: to stock up on supplies for an all-American(ish) BBQ while also taken in some of the Cotswolds foodie scene. The outing took us to Talking Wines, where we literally did talk wines with the very friendly folk who helped us navigate our way through the complex flavours of two particularly excellent Australian wines. The exercise also made it easy to decide what to bring home with us.

Aussie Wines

After wine tasting, we refuelled on healthy vegan salad snacks at The Organic Farm Shop cafe prior to perusing their shop. The guys walked away with a most interesting basket of food: grass-fed, farm-raised, zero-food-miles meeeat to put on the BBQ; raw cacao nibs; and a bottle of Organic Stroud Budding (my favourite beer at the moment). My basket was much greener.

#goatsofinstagram

I was feeling anxious to get the BBQ underway but am glad we bothered to make a stop at New Wave Fish Shop for a big slab of salmon. After one final stop to Waitrose for the extraneous supplies (and cheese), we were finally on our way home where the BBQ commenced.

The BBQ itself was a seriously remarkable success. Same wavelengths were achieved. Planets were aligned. Meat was grilled. Bread was baked. It was a mutual ebb and flow of cooking, music playing, drinking, eating and playing.

Our vague menu plan: BBQ sauce, sweet potato fries, meat, fish, grilled veg, cornbread, mayo, grilled pineapple, cheese board. (Hurray for people who’d rather have cheese over sweet desserts!)

So I thought I’d report on our laundry list of successes for the evening, in no particular order…

If for some reason you’re all out of corn meal, but you happen to have masa harina, then YES you can make cornbread with masa harina, and it’s actually pretty awesome.

Weekend learning point: for lack of cornmeal, masa harina makes stellar cornbread! (Props to @keithhologram for this one.)

This Smoky Barbecue Sauce recipe from Simply Recipes was stellar (after we added a bit of soy sauce and garlic).

The secret to crispy salmon skin is to leave it on the BBQ and BE PATIENT – don’t touch it until it’s almost cooked, then take it off the heat and finish it in the oven.

Salmon - crispy skin success!

BBQ’d mushrooms are the bomb. Especially with the aforementioned Smoky Barbecue Sauce.

Glorious mushrooms

Homemade mayonnaise is the best.

Making mayo

Sriracha sauce is good on everything, particularly sweet potatoes when combined with homemade mayonnaise.

Sriracha   mayo   sweet potato fries = awesome

Crispy sweet potato fries are hard to achieve. (Any suggestions?)

Star Trek: The Voyage Home, is a great film to unwind to after a long night of cooking and feasting.

Leftovers make a great breakfast spread. Just add eggs!

Breakfast pimped out with BBQ leftovers.

Or just add toast, more mayo and Sriracha – that’s how Donovan rolls. Behold his sweet potato fry tartine:

Hugely impressed with @dollaveet's mayo, Sriracha, mushroom, sweet potato "tartine".

Thank you, Team Mayo! Looking forward to our next BBQ adventure – tandoori style!

Team Mayo

Asian Inspiration

Caramelised Coconut Mackerel from Uyen Luu's book

I’ve just had a super terrific reunion weekend with three of my great friends, Kavey, Pete and Marie. We’ve been anticipating this meet-up for months (FYI: Pinterest is awesome for brainstorming foodie get togethers) and, as usual, hatched some ambitious plans for our menu. I can always count on Kavey to come armed with fun new cookbooks to try, and this weekend it was Uyen Luu’s My Vietnamese Kitchen, which became the focus of our cooking adventures and also inspired us to go with an Asian theme throughout the weekend. As a result, I’m feeling that dopamine high of having learned so many new things! Steamed fish, Shaoxing wine, fried rice, Vietnamese omelettes, Chinese salad dressings, tempura vegetables, new ways with tofu, not to mention some delicious drinks to go with them, and a few solid GAMES to keep us busy between courses (I. Love. Carcassonne.).

IMG_3796

I thought I’d share a few of the recipes that I particularly enjoyed.

We loved Uyen Luu’s Omelette Bánh Mi with quick pickled carrots; the perfect thing for Saturday Lunch. We also loved her Caramelised Coconut Sardines (which we adapted with mackerel, pictured above).

Saturday Lunch: Bahn Mi and Beer

Warm tofu with spicy garlic sauce, perhaps one of the easiest and most delicious preparations for tofu that I’ve ever come across.

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Miso Sesame Dressing, a sauce so nice we made it twice! First to go with panko fried vegetables on Friday night, and we liked it so much that we did it again on Saturday for veggie tempura.

Crispy Salad with Grated Carrots and a Ponzu Soy Dressing from Harumi Kurihara’s Everyday Harumi (another stellar book find).

Harumi Kurihara's Crisp Salad with Grated Carrots and Ponzu Soy Dressing

Steamed Sea Bream with Ginger and Spring Onion, adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s sea bass recipe on matchingfoodandwine.com (we couldn’t get a hold of whole sea bass so used sea bream fillets which worked a charm). This was very simple to make and totally outstanding. Plus, it added a new ingredient to my cooking repertoire: Shaoxing wine!

Steamed sea bream with ginger and spring onion

Spicy Peanut Noodles, another Fuchsia recipe and a perfect side dish for the fish. I’ll definitely be making the peanut sauce again to use on all manners of tasty things (veggie “noodles” come to mind).

Dutch Baby Pancake with Green Tea Ice Cream.

Clafoutis with Whisky-Soaked Dates (adapted from Kate Hill‘s recipe), served with Uyen Luu’s Vietnamese Frozen Yogurt.

Made @katedecamont's clafoutis last night, with whiskey-soaked dates. Leftovers going down well for breakfast with @lovelulu's frozen yogurt.

 

Do check out Uyen Luu’s book, My Vietnamese Kitchen, and while you’re at it, check out my friends’ awesome websites too: Kavey EatsPete Drinks and Lanyon Cottages.

There’s also a few more awesome pictures from our weekend (Banangrams, Pina Coladas, Yahtzee!) on Flickr.

7 Reasons Why I Juice Feast

Carrot Juice

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been at it again with the Juice Feast (hashtag #JuiceFeast!), along with my friend Marie Leggo who I’m guiding through the process. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the gist:

We are drinking only fresh pressed juices for seven days in a row following the same programme I did last year.

Someone on Facebook asked if I could elaborate on WHY we’re doing this, and I thought I would summarise my answer here. My earlier blog post (Juice Feast in Review) explains why I did this in the first place: largely, curiosity. But having done it I’ve amassed all kinds of reasons to do it again. Please note that this post is about why I juice feast, not why it works. But I’ll touch on that below.

7 Reasons Why I Juice Feast

  1. The Uber Reboot: I’ve just come back from a four week trip to Chicago and like many of us have been feeling a little sluggish and soft around the edges as a result of holiday gluttony. I feel eager (impatient?) to get back to how I was feeling pre-Christmas, and to push myself further to feel even better than before. I talked about one way of rebooting at my New Year Reboot class last week (heavy emphasis on soups and smoothies). Well, juicing is another way.  
  2. Mental benefits: Last time I did the Juice Feast, by Day 4 I was on fire. I can’t remember the last time I felt so clear-headed and energised. I got so much done. It was during that time that I wrote almost all of Smarter Fitter Smoothies. Here’s what I said in my earlier post: “So after Day 3 is when things really got crazy. I suddenly had all kinds of energy that lasted from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. It was marvellous. I got so much done. I was focused. I put in lots of time on everything. I had to force myself to go to bed at night even though I wasn’t tired. I felt like I did things with purpose.”
  3. Physical benefits: Exercise is an important part of the Juice Feast and I’ve been mostly keeping up with the gym and my 10,000 step goal (Fitbit!). As with my brain brain, my body is feeling better, too. In fact, I’m feeling pretty sprightly, especially with my cycling and weightlifting, and again, purposeful.
  4. Reflection: This ties in with #3. I’ve recently felt like much of my thinking around exercise has been skewed. The warning sign is this: often when I go for a walk or a swim or the gym, I find myself looking forward to the end as soon as I’ve began. And my motivations are wonky: I’ve found myself thinking “I should go because I need to work off all that cake I ate over Christmas” rather than “I should go because I want to”. And when I think that way, I find the act boring, or worse, I push my body beyond its limits, thus subjecting myself to injury. So I’m using this time as an opportunity to think about all of my intentions and how I’ll see them through at the Juice Feast. This goes for my physical activity as well as other life stuff like building up my business and tweaking some of my thinking around food (a subject for another time!).
  5. My winter solstice mission: At winter solstice last year (mentioned in my Chicago Trip Highlights) I decided that this winter would be all about nourishment. For me, this Juice Feast is part of my way of mentally and physically nourishing the body, but also thinking about how to carry on that theme of nourishment for the rest of winter (see #4. Reflection).
  6. Catch up on life: The nice thing about juicing is it frees up a lot of time. Juicing is quick and easy compared to cooking, and I’m not spending time eating meals, either. Granted, I miss meal time, one of life’s great joys, especially with friends. But for a week, I can do without, and it’s nice to have a chance to catch up on things, and also feel a smidgen of time freedom to invest in that needed reflection I mentioned above.
  7. Get AMPED for feeling awesome. In the end, I’m doing the feast for sustained benefit. I know juicing isn’t a sustainable way to live and I wouldn’t want to. But by the end of the juice feast I should be in a great place physically and mentally to carry on doing the things that are best for me. This is all about feeling awesome all of the time – my eternal quest! The juicing should leave me in a good place to carry on with gusto. (See #1. The Uber Reboot.)

Of course, we all have different reasons for Juice Feasting. Marie summed up hers on Facebook:

For me its not just about the weight loss I’m doing it to feel great – as Jason Vales book says: ‘power-pack your body wth nutrients and enzymes to make you feel energised and invigorated’

And speaking of those enzymes, as I mentioned earlier, this post is all about why I Juice Feast, not why it works. In fact, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence out there that it “works” for any of the reasons claimed by most juicing “celebrities”. A lot of it reads like a lot of detox mumbo jumbo to me (and in fact much of it is). One argument makes some sense: Juicing gives the digestive system the ultimate spa break. How? The act of juicing makes the nutrients in the juice super easy to digest, so the body not only gets flooded with nutrients, but it also has energy for repair (energy that would otherwise be spent digesting solid food).

But beyond this, the evidence is anecdotal at best. And I suppose my own anecdote is enough evidence to convince me that the Juice Feast is worth doing.

Three days left and a world of possibilities lie ahead. Bring it on!

Juice Feasting with the Phillips Avance Juicer

Fairly typical breakfast scene at the moment. #juicing

The release of my Smoothie Book is approaching FAST (free copies up for grabs here) and naturally I’ve been making a lot of smoothies, not only to test my recipes but also to fuel my fires and get me stoked for the highs and [only occasional] lows of eBook development.

One of the things I suggest in my book is trying fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juice as a liquid base for smoothies. So, for the last couple weeks, I’ve been playing with the Phillips Avance Juicer from Argos and finding out what the fuss about juicing is all about. Turns out, there’s something to be said for this modern day phenomenon…

I'd like to create a smoothie version of this most excellent juice, made of carrot, apple, ginger and lemon (zest included). Smooth it with some almonds maybe?

A Tale of Two Juicers

Back in the day I had a juicer, a really fancy Omega “masticating juicer” (juicer speak for “hardcore”). It cost the world but made amazing juice (as well as pasta, almond milk, nut butter and more!). This was the Vitamix of juicers. But it had a lot of bits and pieces, was a pain to clean and in the end I sold it.

philips-avance-advance-juicer

The Phillips juicer is a different beast. It’s a centrifugal juicer (see the difference between masticating and centrifugal juicers) that actually seems to do what it says on the box: “Maximum Juice. Minimum fuss.” The setup was easy and the best thing was that the fruit “shoot” actually had capacity for whole apples. This means less chopping and easier juice. Cleanup was also easy – there are 4 pieces to clean and all are dishwasher safe (and none of the bits have annoying grooves or dips that are prone to collecting nasty water in the dishwasher).

Juicing: it’s not a detox, but it’s still cool

The juicer came with a copy of Jason Vale‘s The Funky Fresh Juice book which further led me to his other book, The Juice Master Diet which details a 7-day juicing regime (“7lbs in 7 days!” he claims). I was skeptical because I hate the word “diet” and the cover of the book makes it seem like this is all about losing weight FAST. Furthermore, the book itself is full of fluffy health claims about “body cleansing”, superfoods and “detoxing”.

So it seems spirulina makes smoothies look like something out of Ten Forward. This is cool to me. #trekkie

It may seem weird that I’m knocking the idea of “detox” when I glowed emphatically about the Clean Detox program I did for three weeks earlier this year. But as I’ve learned, calling such things a “detox” is biologically incorrect and based on a misunderstanding of how the human detoxification system really works (see: Detox Diets: Facts & Fallacies). Even Jason Vale admits (sort of): “Your body has it’s own filtration system, mainly the liver, and it’s constantly cleaning, or ‘detoxing’, if you prefer. So yes it could be argued that, ‘juicing doesn’t help the body to detox’, which is true..ish.”

Still, a book like The Juice Master Diet has a market and I get that Jason’s writing to that market. He even writes in the book: “I suppose that in order to get your message to the people who need it most you sometimes have to compromise along the way”. Ok, fine.

And hey, the stir fry juice is pretty good. (Hold the soy sauce in mine, please.)

So I read the book and made some juice and as much as I’m cynical about all the fluffy superfood jargon, I am still fascinated by this concept of a full-time juicing spell (it helps that the apple orchard is in full swing and I have a LOT of fruit to play with at the moment). I felt great after doing the Clean thing. Call it a detox, call it whatever you will: if you eat “clean food” (fruit, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, etc.) and don’t eat “bad food” (sugar, alcohol, processed food, etc.) for an extended, uninterrupted period of time, you’re bound to feel awesome, and isn’t that the point? And if that “clean food” were delivered in pure juice form, how would I feel?  Would it increase my energy? Improve my morale (which has been suffering a little lately in light of a recent foot injury)? Would it make me feel like a rock star?

So, I’ve decided to find out.

Juicy Wall Planner

Juice Feast in Progress

So, as I write this, I’m just finishing my fourth day of what I’m calling a “juice feast”. And “feast” really is the operative word here. This isn’t a “diet”, or a “fast” – it really is a feast of an alarmingly large amount of juice for seven days in a row. I’m drinking SEVEN juices a day, and many of the juices get blended with yogurt or avocado so they’re more like smoothies. Here are my observations so far:

Pros:

  • It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.
  • The plan is totally laid out for you – there’s a wall chart and an app that makes it totally easy to create a shopping list, plan your smoothies throughout the day and make the recipes. There’s very little thinking to do here.
  • The juices are really good.
  • Avocados play a major role in the smoothie recipes and I am an avo ADDICT.
  • Some of the juices are more like “smoothies” (so, fresh juice blended with avocado or yogurt) – I look forward to these the most!
  • I still have energy to go to the gym, life weights, cycle, etc. In fact, today I lifted more and swam more quickly than I have in many months. Most importantly, I felt great while doing it (albeit a little hungry).
  • I sleep like the dead.
  • I am not constantly hungry.
  • I have a LOT of energy throughout the day – no crashes ever – and this especially goes for MENTAL energy, which means…
  • I’m WAY more productive, particularly in the evenings, though this might be because I don’t spend time cooking or eating a “meal” (dinner time is one of my favourite times of the day, but often after dinner, I succumb to a movie or useless internet surfing – this hasn’t really happened, or if I do it with a movie, I do it with intention and not “I can’t be bothered doing anything else” kind of laziness).
  • The whole thing seems to go by pretty quickly.

Cons

  • Headaches, which I experienced on Days 2 and 3. They set in at about 5pm and didn’t go anywhere for the entire evening. This may have been an effect of caffeine withdrawal – I haven’t had any headaches since.
  • The recipes can get a bit samy, particularly on the fruit front – he stresses that apples, carrots and pineapple or a combination should always be used as a base to the vegetable juices. But this brings me to my next gripe…
  • He doesn’t explain WHY. I’d love to know more about why the plan is laid out as it is and why these particular fruits and vegetables are so important.
  • I miss cooking and sitting down for a proper meal.
  • Ok, I know I said I wasn’t constantly hungry but I admit that there is a sort of latent hunger that drinking a glass of liquid just doesn’t satisfy (Jason Vale argues that this is “mental hunger” and not true physical hunger – and that if it is true hunger, we are free to simply drink more juice).
  • As much as the juicer is easy to use and clean, it loses it’s charm when you have to clean it seven times.
  • It’s expensive, especially if you buy into all of the optional recommended supplements (spirulina, wheatgrass, psyllium husks). Plus the groceries alone: I mean, 85 apples for the whole week! (I’m lucky I have an orchard.) Not to mention the cost of the juicer.
  • The juices, though delicious, get a little boring as the same ones are repeated throughout the week.
  • I miss salt.
  • I miss chewing.

I will report back in a few days when I’m finished and let you know my final thoughts on the whole thing.  In the meantime, to give you an idea of how this works in practice, I’m sharing a recipe for one of the juices that features prominently throughout the seven day juice feast, and it’s one of my favourites. I didn’t think I liked pineapple but add a lime and it’s a total win.

I cannot argue with this "Super Juice" - or this avocado.

Jason Vale’s “Turbo Express”

Juicy Ingredients

  • 1/4 small pineapple
  • 1/2 stick celery
  • 1 inch chunk of cucumber
  • 1 small handful of spinach leaves
  • 1 small piece of peeled lime
  • 2 apples – not Granny Smiths
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • Ice

Juicy Instructions

  1. Juice the pineapple, celery, cucumber, spinach, lime and apples. (If you have a Phillips whole-fruit juicer, put in one apple, place the other ingredients on top and then finish up with the other apple).
  2. Place the ripe avocado flesh in the blender / smoothie maker along with the ice and juice mixture.
  3. Give a good whiz for 45 seconds (or until smooth).
  4. Pour into glass – enjoy!

Why this is good for you

This juice is rich in potassium, vitamin C and iron, which helps cleanse the intestine and boost the immune system. It is excellent for rebuilding red blood cells and reducing blood pressure. It is also helpful with kidney problems and acts as a diuretic. The blended avocado contains all of our body’s six dietary needs in abundance – water, fat, protein, natural sugar, vitamins and minerals.

Source: Jason Vale’s Turbo Express

Related Links

Elderberry Recipes Galore

Elderberries

Having just written about elderberry vinaigrette, I found myself chock full of elderberry recipes and ideas for this easily forageable food. Some of these ideas found their way to Great British Chefs today, and now they find their way here. Enjoy, and let me know if you have any other elderberry recipes ideas to share!

We often think of elderflowers when it comes to the elder plant, Sambucus nigra. But the berries that result from those elderflowers are well worth gathering, too.

Elderberries have been used for centuries for their healing abilities. The classical healers used elderberries to treat numerous ills, from asthma to arthritis, and today the berries are commonly considered a natural remedy for cold and flu. There may be some merit to this; elderberries are high in flavenoids which are thought to protect the body against cell damage.

But nutritional benefits aside, elderberries actually taste pretty good, too (when prepared correctly), and are well worth foraging in the hedgerows. The easiest way to pick elderberries is to gather them in bunches, then use a fork to prick off the berries into a bowl (some of the stem might remain in the berries but for most recipes this doesn’t matter).

Elderberries for elderberry syrup

You’ve got your berries, now what to do with them? Elderberry recipes abound:

  • Elderberry “Balsamic” Vinegar – Elderberry vinegar is delicious as glaze for beetroot; it also makes a wonderful elderberry vinaigrette for salads.
  • Elderberry Dutch Baby – Just add a handful of elderberries to the batter. We did this during equinox and it rocked our world.
  • Pontack Sauce – An old English sauce made with elderberries and spices with origins going back to the 17th century.
  • Elderberry Cordial – This is particularly tasty when drunk with hot water as a tea.
  • Elderberry Jelly or Elderberry Jam – Or combine elderberries with other hedgerow goodies like blackberries and crabapples and make a hedgerow jelly.
  • Elderberry pie – pastry-encased elderberry; how can you go wrong?
  • Elderberry liqueur – if you like tawny port, you’ll like this.
  • Elderberry Wine – A bit more involved than the above recipes, but the upshot: you get wine at the end of it!

Elderberry Vinaigrette

Perhaps the best place to start with elderberries is by making a simple elderberry syrup. The recipe is easy and the result is delicious and super versatile.

  • Mix it with fizzy water as a cordial
  • Drizzle it over yogurt or ice cream
  • Use it as a base for sorbet
  • Make a cocktail
  • Use it in place of maple syrup on your pancakes and waffles

Elderberry Syrup

Ingredients

  • 2-pounds (1kg) elderberries
  • 4 cups (1l) water
  • 2½ (500g) cups sugar
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  1. Put the elderberries in a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the elderberries tender and soft.
  2. Pass through a food mill or push through a fine sieve, then discard the skins.
  3. Pour the juice back into the pot, add the sugar and simmer for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, then leave to cool.
  4. Once cool, pour the juice into a bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Black and Blue Avocado Smoothie

Black & Blue Avocado & Mint Smoothie

This smoothie has become a staple of mine in recent weeks, largely thanks to the abundance of blackberries in the hedgerows at the moment. If only avocados grew so readily, alas, I have to rely on Lidl for my avocado fix (yes, Lidl, where avocados seem to be both cheaper and tastier than those from other supermarkets, the exception being The Organic Farm Shop which occasionally has organic avocados from Mexico which are pure bliss).

But I digress. I like to add interest to this smoothie with mint and orange flower water, but if you don’t have those it’s not the end of the world. This is really all about the berries, and the avocados and dates make it creamy sweet deliciousness.

Black and Blue Avocado Smoothie
Recipe type: Smoothie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1
 

Up the dates if you like a sweeter smoothie – this comes in handy if the dates are particularly tart. Go easy on the orange flower water – a little bit (we’re talking drops) goes a very long way.
Ingredients
  • 150g blackberries, blueberries or a combo of the two
  • ½ avocado
  • a big handful of kale
  • 1 date
  • a few ice cubes
  • water, nut milk or rice milk
  • a couple sprigs of mint, stalks removed
  • a few drops of orange flower water (go easy on this)

Instructions
  1. Put everything in a blender and add enough water, nut milk or rice milk to blend. Blitz on high for a minute or so to make sure the date and everything else gets chopped up well. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Information
Calories: 268 Fat: 16 Carbohydrates: 33 Fiber: 14 Protein: 6 Cholesterol: 0

 

 

Clean Detox Day 6: I think I’ve been missing Healthy Vegan Breakfast Salads

Clean detox day 6

Breakfast smoothie: 1 pear, 1/4 avocado, 100ml cashew milk, 1cm hunk of ginger, 1 date, leaves from a couple sprigs of fresh mint, ice. This was terrific.

Lunch: Cucumber, cashew and lemon soup with smoked salt, paprika and curry powder. Inspired by this recipe. Not bad!

Dinner: Quinoa and steamed veggies with lemon and oil dressing, chopped parsley and dill, avocado and toasted seeds.

 

I still haven’t managed to adopt the soup-for-dinner rule: tonight’s the night, I swear! But that being said, last night’s dinner was kind of perfect after a couple days experimenting with fish and way too many veggie noodles. I think I’ve been missing my Healthy Vegan Breakfast Salads, because that’s basically what I had for dinner.

There’s something to be said for a simple meal of vegetables, grains and herbs. Add avocado and toasted seeds to anything and it’s bound to be decent. This was better than decent, especially with the lemon and dill – very refreshing.

Clean detox day 6