Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Juicing Season One….Complete


After 23 days I have now broken my Juice Fast so that I can enjoy Christmas Eve, eating the same food as relatives when we get together.

That has always been the goal, so it's not as if I'm failing. Have to tell you though, there were times when it was a real challenge to keep going.

Over the last couple of  days I asked myself a few times if I should continue as I still need to lose a a whole bunch of weight? But, I recognized that I've been slowly burning out and the idea of continuing until February 1st (a brief pipe dream) just didn't seem realistic.

Still, I'm happy with the results. In 23 days, I've lost an estimated 30 pounds. I don't know what my blood chemistry looks like as I still need to talk my doctor into allowing me to take another battery of blood tests.

I may start up again sometime after January 1st. If not then, then definitely by March 1st. I'd like to lose another 50-70 pounds by the Summer. But, anything will be a victory.

Right now, I just have to teach myself better portion control and to keep an eye on what kind of ingredients I cook with. I've found a whole bunch of good ones on the Internet. Unfortunately, they're never single portion size!

My first official solid food since November 30th was a mixed green salad, with green onions, mushrooms, Blood Orange sections and water chestnuts. For a dressing it was Panera Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing, which I got for free at Safeway. Can't beat free!!

When that first slice of water chestnut hit my tongue I thought I was in Heaven. Never underestimate the enjoyment of that crispy crunch!

A little bit later I delved into a bag of Tao Kae Noi Crispy Seaweed snacks, which I grabbed at Berkeley Bowl West the other day. So much more flavorful than normal potato chips.

While I didn't have to learn to chew again, as Joe Cross did after his 60 Day Reboot, I was extra careful not to bite my tongue by accident.

Not that I should be considering any type of juicing guru, but should people ask me for advice here's a few things I've gleaned from my juice fast.

1 – Get a really good juicer. You can buy cheap ones for about $100. But, they're a bear to clean up and wear out after extended use. I got a horizontal masticating one because I want to be able to use it for stuff beyond the juice fast. Before starting my juice fast one of the things I made was frozen banana sorbet. The texture was just as good as any fancy store bought variety.

2 – Plan on buying your produce at least a couple of times a week. When I first started I tried stretching it to a week and some of the stuff I bought had went bad. And when going shopping make sure to make yourself a shopping list. Sure enough, you'll forget something if you don't. I did a couple of times.

3 – Properly store your veggies. When you get home immediately remove the twist ties they use to bunch the leafy greens together. Additionally invest in some of those green ethylene produce storage bags. I had my doubts on them till I started using them. I had some radishes which were crispy three weeks later!

4 – Don't be afraid to try different juice combinations. Joe Cross' unwritten rule is to eat 80% veggies and 20% fruits in a day. Originally I had tried writing up a meal plan. However, it just didn't work greatly, and so I ended up adlibbing, usually with a 100% fruit juice for breakfast.

5 – You will probably eat more carrots and kale than you have ever consumed previously! At least the kale part. Kale is the main ingredient in one of Cross' most nutrient rich juices, Joe's Mean Green. Besides kale, it has cucumbers, lemon, ginger and celery. I doubled the lemon and played with the ginger to get a flavor I could drink.

Some juicers handle fruits and veggies differently. The one I bought blew me a way with the way it dealt with carrots. This was great because my favorite Go To juice was Ginger Paradise, which had carrots, ginger and apple. If I wasn't worried about burning out on it, I would have had this every day, twice a day!

6 – Get in the habit of washing your juicer immediately after use. I made it a practice of juicing, and then while the juice was sitting in the catch cup, I'd wash my juicer, scrubbing it with the big tooth brush they included so it would be clean and ready for the next meal.

7 – Don't be afraid to augment with healthy store bought juice if you must. I had issues with getting any juices that I really liked which included tomatoes. I ended up buying a bottle of Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8, and using the same glass size as I'd been juicing.

And as I pointed out, make sure to look for the low sodium variety. It slays me that they still sell the regular variety with all that salt added, when the low sodium one really tastes excellent.

8 – Don't be a scale watcher. Though it was really obvious I was losing weight quickly, I decided to only weigh myself on Sunday evening, and then wearing the exact same clothes as the week before. Seeing the scale go down 7-10 pounds in a week was a lot more exciting than seeing a one pound loss in a day.

9 – Don't buy properly fitting clothes three days before starting a juice fast. I bought some pants on Black Friday and three weeks later they're huge on me. Suppose a good problem to have.

Good luck to anyone that who takes up this type of a challenge!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Juicing update 1…Weathering the Storm


Just a quick update on how things are going. I've survived a week. Well, today is technically Day 7. But, I will round it up nonetheless.

First day was great. No problems whatsoever. By about Day Three, though, I'd grossly underestimated how much veggies I needed to have in house. I had originally hoped to go the whole week without shopping. Obviously unrealistic. With that in mind, I made a meal plan for five days and headed off to Berkeley Bowl West.

It's nicely located two blocks away from an AC Transit bus stop, along San Pablo Avenue.  I can basically hop the bus, do my shopping, and then back to catch a northbound bus on the rebound for only an additional quarter.

In the beginning, one of the things I had decided was that I had better vary my menus, lest I burn out quickly on kale. A couple of the juices I added included parley.

First off let me say that a little goes a long way with parsley. Earlier I had tried the curly leaf parsley in a juice and it basically made it a green sludge.

With that experience in mind I bought flat leaf parley instead. Alas, but the same green sludge with a pronounced parley flavor. And that was with using half the amount the recipe called for.

Because of this experience, I have decided to reconsider any recipe that includes parsley. (And please don't bother to suggest cilantro. That's a non-starter because I can't stand it in normal cooking to begin with).

Yesterday was a pretty miserable day. The weather here was dark and cloudy all day, eventually raining in the evening. That, coupled with the record low temps for Dec. 6, cast a bit of a funk over me.

The dog and I basically sat on the couch all day watching TV, mostly hidden under a warm blanket. This was a continuation of the night before.

Unfortunately, many of the shows had commercials for food. It's truly amazing how much you notice food commercials when you're not eating solid food.

Probably didn't help that Thursday night I watched a Rick Steves' marathon of Europe through the Backdoor where he was visiting France. And what show on France is complete without lots and lots of shots of rich and creamy cheeses, soups and other culinary goodness?

By the end of the night I was ready to kill for a warm loaf of French bread and some gooey Camembert.

After a couple of other juice failures last night I went to bed questioning whether I could continue this much longer, despite having intentions to.

Fast Forward to this morning. The sun is out, with a powdery blue sky. My juice this morning turned out OK, despite my forgetting to put in a cucumber (loaded with lots of water to thin the juice out). I'm listening to Griz playoff football streaming. Life is much better.

This afternoon I will have to go shopping again. But, hopefully, I will come up with some concoctions that will keep me going through December 23rd. To use that over used line from Apollo 13…Failure is not an option!!

At least for now. More later when I feel the urge to blog….

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Let the Juicing Begin…


A few months ago I was at the Albany Library surfing the DVD selection, hoping to find a few titles for the coming week.

Mid way through the collection I stumbled into the F titles, and amongst them was Joe Cross' Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. This 2010 documentary followed Cross as he transformed himself through a 60 Day Juice Fast.

Though it had been recommended to me a few times before, it wasn't even on my radar that day. But, once I saw the DVD jacket, something sparked me to take it home.

It's amazing what he was able to accomplish over a two month period; losing 80 pounds and kicking to the curb all sorts of medicines he was forced to take due to health ailments.

After watching the documentary I thought about it a bit, and realized it might be doable. After all, if it didn't pan out, I could always try something else. But, the most intriguing part, is that it seems nearly everyone who had attempted it, saw a tremendous weight loss, along with improvements in blood pressure and chemistry.

So, with much thought, I spent some time researching juicers. Half the enjoyment of buying a new "play toy" is the research in figuring which one to buy.

Most people who have even a general idea of what a juicer is, have probably heard of the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. It's marketed very well, and can get a person into a juicer for about $100.

While I've seen it in usage, the cleanup looked like an absolute nightmare. Plus, there was a question about its longevity after constant usage.

Cross touts juicers made by Breville. They are apparently well known with foodies and have models that fit in any budget; from the mid-$100 to $400.

In doing research I always like to check out YouTube for video reviews. There's no guarantee the reviews will be accurate. However, when there's a common thread, I take that as a good indication.

It's through videos from Discountjuicers.com that I was enlightened about the Omega Juicer line.

Omega also has models to fit in anybody's budget. However, one of the big selling points for me was that they warranty their products for 10-15 years (depending on the model). They even have some models that are commercial grade rated.

Bed, Bath and Beyond carries some of the Omega Juicers (right next to the Breville juicers, which included a free DVD of Cross' film). While not all models are available in the store, many others can be purchased from the catalog, and shipped directly to your house.

With, BB/B 20% coupon in hand (the only way to buy big ticket items there!!) I ended up ordering the Omega NC800HDS. This is one of their masticating models.

There are two types of juicers. The centrifugal style which operates at ultra high speed. It juices fast, and models are generally cheaper. But, cleanup is involved.

Then there's the masticating, which uses a relatively slow speed. Supposedly, this has the added benefit of being gentile on the juice, and so it can last up to three days before it starts to lose its nutrition value.

The model I got not only makes juice. But, it can be used for making nut butter and frozen sorbets! Before embarking on the juice fast I tried out these two features and it's amazing, especially the sorbet. Frozen chunks of organic banana were turned into something resembling soft serve ice cream in less than a minute.

I figured that these extra features will be a good use a long time after I've completed the juice fast. However, long that turns out to be. And a big benefit is that cleanup takes about two minutes!!

In preparation for the big push, I've been juicing for lunch every day for the last couple of weeks. I broke that rule for Thanksgiving, and since Turkey Day came so late this year, I also took the rest of the month off (two days).

Anyone who knows anything about my favorite foods, has to wonder how this is going to work? The thought of the next few weeks without salami, cheese and other carnivorous goodies, sends a shiver down my spine.

To prevent temptation, I used up all food in the house, except for a few condiments in the fridge, and some frozen oxtails and homemade cranberry sauce.

Another hard thing will be no caffeinated coffee! To wean myself off coffee, I bought some decaf, so that my morning cup would be 50% regular/50% unleaded. Now, I'm moving on to full decaf.

Hopefully, once that bag is gone I can skip coffee totally, though I really do like the taste of black coffee. to help, I've also picked up some flavorful herbal tea.

And what about that No Alcohol rule Robert? I love craft beer, though I don't drink it all the time due to price. Still, it's nice to grab a pint when the mood strikes. I've went cold turkey before just to challenge myself, and I survived, though Hot Buttered Rum weather is upon us!

Don't expect to see any Before and After photos purposely posted. There won't be any. Stats will probably be kept to a minimum too. It's just not stuff I feel the need to share.

This blog entry has turned out to be a lot longer than I had intended. So much, that I will consider this a "pre-amble" to the main event, which I'll start in a different blog entry; perhaps later tonight.

No need to wish me good luck. Just keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Hoping Jake's kibble doesn't drive me nuts at feeding time. It's made with real herring, after all.