A Fresh [ and Juicy] Start
Why, hello world.
After taking what I’m going to call a 4-month “hibernation hiatus,” I’m back from the dead and ready to dust off this keyboard….
Now that it’s finally summer, I figure what better way to acknowledge this awakening than a recipe for a rejuvenating “cleanse” of sorts. (The truth is that I just arrived home from a week-long sales meeting in Monterey, and I am in dire need of a total body reset. A week away in the name of “work” can mean only one thing: too much food and too much wine). I flew home friday completely exhausted – dehydrated, puffy, and irritable. Change was in order.
Last year around this same time and this same meeting (funny coincidence), I signed up for a 4 day juice cleanse through a nearby yoga studio. I had done some reading on the benefits of juicing and was totally swayed by the promise of a feel-good sense of clarity and renewal in the body – not to mention weight loss, a down-played side effect that I found particularly enticing. The cleanse itself was a cool two-hundred bucks and came with a complicated pickup scenario involving a 30 minute drive to the studio every single day to pick up a day’s supply of fresh juices). It was a little bit of a hassle, but not enough to deter me. I followed the instructions to a T: I began each day reading a thoughtfully written inspirational newsletter from the yoga studio, drank a tall glass of water with lemon, followed by 1 green juice for breakfast, followed by an 11am fruit smoothie, followed by a 1pm nut milk, followed by 2 green juices that evening for dinner. I’m not going to lie about this – it was really tough. I distinctly remember cooking dinner for K, then obsessively watching him eat every bite while trying not to lunge at him, fangs out. Everybody thought I was completely nuts to attempt a liquid, all-plant diet for four days straight, and I will admit that at some point – I was complete nuts. Hunger pangs peaked early evening on Day 2, which was the height of my brush with insanity – but it subsided soon after, and by the following morning I began to feel like a whole new person. True story.
The juice cleanse did several things for me:
1) it made me appreciate my food. I think in recent years I’ve started to forget how sacred “the meal” is in my daily life. I’m always trying to squeeze in breakfast over emails, lunch during errands, etc. I’m never paying attention - I’m just gobbling and moving on to the next thing on my agenda. During the cleanse, you’re supposed to “chew your juice” and really think about the nourishment coming from the fruits, nuts, and vegetables blended into each smoothie. On day 5 when you finally take your first bite of solid food again – you chew it forever in appreciation. You really take your time! That part has really helped me.
2) it made me crave vegetables. If I am reaching for a snack in this house, 9 times out of 10 I’m going for tortilla chips and some sort of dip – whether it’s salsa/guacamole/hummus. I’m a corn chip addict. It’s a serious problem. The cleanse somehow reprograms my brain to desire what is good for me. I don’t know how this happens or what exactly is taking place upstairs, but it has worked for me and I love this change. It probably has something to do with the fact you’re going from liquids to solids – and anything solid feels like a treat at first. Who knows. It has really helped me make better snacking choices.
3) it helps me drop a few pounds without depriving my body of vital nutrients. I’m not a doctor, or a nutritionist, or any kind of certified expert on this subject – but I know a crazy diet when I see one. What I like about 4 days of juice is knowing that I’m eating greens (vitamins), fruits (sugars) and nuts (protein + fat) and getting what I need to sustain myself during a moderate workout. I’m sorry, but if a diet has me so deprived that I can’t muster the energy for a 2 mile jog – it is not going to work out for me. These juices will keep me going, which is my minimum requirement.
Now for the fun part. Despite my newfound love for juicing, forking up the cash for a branded cleanse every few months isn’t really sustainable for my finances – so – I set out to break the juices down and see if I could somehow recreate my own personal version. I should mention here that I don’t even own a juicer (K put the kibosh on the purchase of any new kitchen appliances about 3 hours after our wedding). Instead I just blend everything up in my Vitamix, and strain/press it all through a fine mesh strainer. While I like to make the green juices and fruit smoothies single servings as needed, the nut milk I make in a large batch and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If I return from a work trip and feel like I’ve overdone it – I replace a meal or two each day with the green juices, keeping dinner as something to look forward to. If I want to be hardcore about it, I drink juice for 4 days straight. 1 green juice for breakfast. 1 fruit smoothie around 11am. 1 nut milk 2 hours later. 2 green juices spaced out through the evening. Drink a lot of water in between and let me know how you make out! Here are the recipes:
GREEN JUICE – 2 whole leaves kale, 1 handful spinach, 1 half cucumber, 1 large stalk celery. Shove it all in the blender. Cover with coconut water. Blend to a pulp. Strain into a large bowl, pressing pulp until any retained juice is pushed through. Mix juice from half a lemon into strained liquid & enjoy! (Sometimes, I will supplement the final juice with a teaspoon of this).
FRUIT SMOOTHIE – 5-7 strawberries, 1 banana, 1 Tbs lucuma powder, cover with almond milk or some other nut milk (not soy), blend alone or with ice.
NUT MILK – soak 2 cups of raw cashews, raw brazil nuts, or raw almonds in clean water overnight to sprout (why sprout? look here). In the morning, discard the soaking water. Add 4 new cups of fresh water to the blender with 2 cups of the soaked nuts. Add 2 pitted dates and 1 tsp coconut butter or oil. Blend until totally smooth. You can drink as a thick smoothie, or strain for a more milk-like liquid consistency. Enjoy!