Thursday, March 28, 2013

Juice Cleanse

Juice Cleanse...Last May, 2012, I decided to do my first ever three day juice cleanse. To be honest I don't even know what sparked my interest besides for two friends who had done it and liked it just fine. I followed all of the instructions, including going vegan for a week before and completely cutting off all ties with the love of my life, espresso.

I'm happy to report that I did it. It was hard, I was loopy, uncomfortable, and dying for just one piece of raw cauliflower - but I did it.

It's been almost a year and I'm on my third day of my second cleanse. I bought this one through a Gilt City deal and it was expiring in a few weeks so this was my last opportunity to use it. I'd like to let you all know what my experience has been like on this second go round and my recommendations if you are interested in doing a cleanse.

1.) Does it "work"?

You can read up on lots of pro/con articles out there about Juice Cleanses but I think it's different for everyone. I personally don't believe it has any real health benefits (like giving your digestive system time to repair itself) because I think our human bodies are already pretty sophisticated and do that themselves. However, I do believe, despite the fact that it likely slows down your metabolism, you do get an ABUNDANCE of vitamins and minerals over a three day span, not to mention you'll lose a quick 5 pounds. In my humble opinion you have to decide what goal it is you are trying to accomplish by doing a cleanse. Do you want to lose 5 lbs? Do you want a challenge? Do you want to take a few days away from food to appreciate it more or be more conscious of what you consume?

Whatever your goal is you should think about whether or not a Juice Cleanse might help you. For me my goal is to challenge myself in a similar way that someone who chooses to run a half marathon might - I like to know that I can be uncomfortable but maintain the discipline to overcome that belly ache for a few days. I also like that it gives me time away from eating to think about what foods I really appreciate, it helps me be more creative in thinking about new things to cook. I of course also like it for the 5lb weight loss, but be warned, this is not permanent. To keep it up you must ease back into eating small quantities.

2.) Which Cleanse?

That's tough but I would say go with a well known one or else if you find a local place that seems great then go for that. The first one I did with JuiceRX and they delivered to my door and it was labeled 1-6 each day and was very easy. I didn't love the juices as much as the one I am doing now but it was fine. This time I am doing it through a place that's local called Element Wellness. They were very personalized when I went in to pick up my juices and answered questions and suggested other probiotics etc to take with the cleanse. I am really enjoying most of the juices in this one.

There are also other options, you can do an all green cleanse (I love green juice so I'd consider this) or for your first time you could do one where you juice until dinner, and then you have a raw food meal at night. All good options!

3.) Pre/Post Cleanse Consumption:


Food...The first time I cleansed I went vegan for a week before. I am a red meat eater, a yogurt lover, a melted cheese enthusiast - so it was hard. Though I think the first time, the novelty of it and trying to come up with creative alternatives made it kind of fun and got me through the week pretty well. This time I only did it for 3 days before, as that is what this company suggested. It was harder this time. I missed the protein, I could feel my body craving it. I have no idea how it would be to go from eating your normal diet to the juice cleanse without a vegan time in between but good luck if you'd like to try!

Coffee... The first time I planned to slowly ween myself off of the triple espresso's I down every morning but it didn't happen and I tried going cold turkey the first day. It was miserable. By 11:00 am I was in a total state of loopiness with a raging headache. Then I was told that drinking some green tea would help and be a better alternative. It did!! I don't love green tea but an iced unsweetened venti from Starbucks did the trick. This time I started the first day off with one and I've been pretty good so far. Definitely less loopy!

Last time I happened to be going home to California for the weekend to visit my family so the first day off my cleanse was the morning I woke up there. I was nervous because they say to ease back into food, and then my mom said "honey, your body has been processing food for 23 years just fine, I don't think three days of juice is going to change that" - and she was right, as mom's always are. I ate some raw veggies and berries in the morning, and I'm pretty sure I scarfed down a cheeseburger that night - oops! The point is, at least for me, I had no issues in terms of my body being in shock when meat entered it's system. I will say though that this time I will TRY to be more conscious of it just because I've spent three days in semi agony to shrink my stomach, so what good will it do me to just expand the thing right back out? I think my goal will be to ease back into quantities more than the actual type of food - I'll have to let you know how that goes after brunch on Sunday!

4.) My Juices:

So here were my juices, just to give you an idea...

1.) Chlorophyll and water: This one was my least favorite and I did not have this in my first cleanse. It really only tastes like water, with a tiny hint of muskiness, but I didn't even drink it the third day. Slap my wrist.

2.) Carrot, grapefruit, lemon, ginger: Very yummy, I don't love the fruit/citrus juices as much as the veggie ones so I was glad there was carrot in here to mellow it out a bit

3.) Apple, cucumber, celery, ginger, cilantro, lemon, parsley: Great, I love the green juices they taste like a salad and have an almost spicy kick with the ginger and green herbs.

4.) Beet, apple, cucumber, lime: Also great, I love the earthiness that beet adds to a juice like this, it feels very filling

5.) Kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, wheatgrass: Again love the greens, this was basically dinner

6.) Almond milk, hemp protein powder, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, stevia: Uh-Mazing. I hated this "protein juice" in my first cleanse but this one was FANTASTIC. By the end of the day you are dying for protein so it was all I could do to keep myself from chugging! PS Chugging these is a big "no no"... you are supposed to drink them slowly, "chew" your juice in fact.

All in all I have enjoyed the challenge, I feel like I've put my mind to something and followed through. And it serves as a good reminder that yes, being hungry is a call from our tummys/brains that we need food, but sometimes we get so caught up in over satiating that desire immediately that we forget to be healthful or we forget that we don't need to stuff our faces to kick those hunger pains.

Hopefully I'll actually remember everything I'm preaching once I can eat solid food tomorrow morning!!

Post Cleanse Addition:

I have to admit I did not see this coming. On the last night of the cleanse, night three, I went to sleep feeling pretty good. I had not finished all of my juices the third day as I had tired of them but I wasn't actually feeling too hungry anymore, I almost felt past the hunger phase. Boy was I wrong. I woke up with a jolt around 4:00am in a light sweat and a pain in my stomach that was unfamiliar and wretched. This wasn't a nausea stomach pain, or an upset stomach pain. This was a "hunger pain". I thought I'd experienced the pang of needing food before, but this was on a whole new level. It was right under my rib cage and felt as though there was a huge tight knott just below the surface of my skin being tugged by gravity through the bed. I literally felt like I couldn't breath. I know this sounds dramatic, but it was! Anywho, it carried on for a few minutes before I had to do something. I slowly ate a banana and some water but it persisted. Finally, I was convinced by my disgruntled sleeping partner that I needed to eat something else - and the only thing I had that seemed acceptable was a whole wheat waffle from Trader Joe's. Low and behold it tasted like the greatest waffle I'd ever eaten in my life, all crispy and mild in flavor. I'm sure on a normal day I would have thought it tasted like cardboard, or perhaps it was the way it was cooked to perfection - my compliments to the chef. But it worked, and by 4:30 am I was back to feeling calm and comfortable.

I'm really bummed this happened because it didn't last time and I was really feeling pretty good about how I had held up, but I guess it goes to show you can only push your body so far! I'm still glad I did it, even after being told last night that I will never be doing one of these crazy things again - ha!! So far today I have nibbled on an egg white scramble with some broccoli and avocado and I've got my iced espresso in hand. Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Biryani: Spicing Things Up

Biryani: Spicing Things Up... My mom sent me this wonderful packet full of Indian spices, dried lentils, and crispy onions this week. She gets it from a spice shop (also where she gets the Dukkah which I have no started buying from Trader Joe's). I love veggies, roasted, sauteed  steamed, grilled, you name it. I think veggies have their own flavors that often are enough on their own with perhaps just ta little olive oil, salt and pepper. But sometimes it's fun to spice them up.

Lately I have been roasting a lot of cauliflower. It's one of those veggies I forget about but now that I'm on a roll I have not been forgetting to pick it up every week, furthermore it's been a hit with the other consumer of my evening meal. When I mentioned last night that the cauliflower was getting a little face lift I was greeted with suggestions that "it's good the way it is" or "just do half with the new stuff". But, alas, I used it on the whole head of roasted cauliflower and it was gobbled up very quickly.

Biryani - it seems as I have researched this blend a bit that there are many variations. Unfortunately my package doesn't seem to include ingredients per se but based on what I've read I think it includes some spices such as cardamom, clove, coriander and saffron  Along with dried lentils, garlic, and crispy onion. I'm sure there are many more ingredients but those are the ones that I can definitely taste and that I have seen mentioned in many recipe's for making the blend yourself.

On the Menu:
Seared Tuna, sauteed Broccolini, and Roasted Biryani Spiced Cauliflower.

The Tuna: 
I actually bought really nice fresh tuna steaks this week from a new local market called Mariano's. They were very thick, almost 2 inches and so they took a while to sear but there was a definite difference in the quality. I marinated them for about 15 minutes in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper then just gave them a nice crispy outside and a medium center. Not totally rare.

The Broccolini:
Sauteed with olive oil and a pinch of salt.

The Cauliflower:
Chopped into even bite sized pieces, drizzled with olive oil and baked at 350 or 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Once they were golden with some slightly crispier browner pieces I pulled the baking sheet out and turned the oven off. I sprinkled two spoonfuls of the spice mixture over the roasted cauliflower along with a pinch of salt and then used the spoon to mix all the pieces up to get them more evenly coated. Then I popped the baking sheet back in the oven for a few minutes on a low rack while my tuna steaks finished  up.

The Spices!
Roasted and tossed 
Din Din

I served it all with a lemon wedge - I love fresh lemon on just about everything - and dinner was served! Low fat, low carb and super flavorful. It was pretty quick too - besides for the 40 minutes in the oven for the cauliflower the tuna and broccolini only take about 10 minutes.

Hope everyone enjoys this healthful and Dahlicious meal!!