Friday, March 30, 2012

Chocolate Bird Nests For Easter

Yes, I’m still juicing and eating healthy! Yesterday I made three batches of Easter treats and didn't lick my fingers once!Wow! I don't know if that is a great accomplishment or sad that I missed out on the chocolate that was all over my fingers. Seriously, it was fine. I am committed to juicing and eating super clean from now til Easter, then I will enjoy Easter dinner (and treats).

We typically host Easter dinner; this year is no exception. For dessert, I decided to go in a fun direction this time. Yesterday I made Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae Bowls, Tuxedo Bunnies and these Chocolate Nests.

Fair warning, this is gooey! If you are one of those people that doesn't like your hands getting messy and sticky, then you need to recruit someone to help you with this one.

What you need:
1- 24 oz bag Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
2- 12 oz bags Chow Mein Noodles
1 bag Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs
Wax Paper
Pour half of the bag of semi sweet chocolate chips into a medium sized, microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir choc and continue to microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until fully melted.

Pour 1 bag of chow mein noodles into the bowl with the chocolate. Gently stir together until noodles are fully coated with chocolate.
Lay out a laaaarge piece of wax paper. (Unless you have someone to help you, you won't be able to get another piece of wax paper without fully washing all the chocolate off your hands once you are in the middle of it.) Now comes the fun part. Side note - I tried spraying my hands with cooking spray before doing this and it didn't make the least bit of difference.

Either with the spoon or your hand, place a scoop onto the wax paper. With your hands, form it into the shape of a nest, making a little bit of an indent in the center. Your hands will be coated with chocolate, there's no way around it!
Continue forming nests until you have used all of the chocolate mixture. Semi sweet chocolate does not harden immediately (like melting chocolate does) so you have plenty of time to form all nests before you need to place the eggs in them.

After you have used all of the mixture, and washed your hands, place three Reese peanut butter eggs in each nest. Note: you could use any chocolate eggs, but the peanut butter is such a great combination with the chocolate nest.
Depending on how many nests you want, repeat the process with the other half bag of chocolate chips and chow mein noodles.

Let the nests sit (I leave them overnight, covered with wax paper) to harden. The next morning I stack them in a deep Tupperware container with wax paper between layers.

Then let the fun begin as you serve them on Easter!
Printable Recipe

For more fun recipes and holiday ideas Click Here and Here.

What is your favorite Easter tradition? To leave a comment click here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Juicy Gossip: Gazpacho

Sometimes I want sweet juice and sometimes I want savory juice. This Gazpacho Juice is one of my favorites because it actually tastes like Gazpacho Soup. It is definitely savory. I leave the seed in the jalapeno when I juice it. If you know that you have a HOT jalapeno you may want to remove the seeds before juicing it.

So here it is, quick and easy today, a great recipe. (And I'm quite excited to have figured out how to provide a link for a printable version down below!)

This juice has a great variety of veggies...
Here's a tip for cutting the lime....
Love when the jalapeno's come from the garden...
And here is the finished product...

Gazpacho Juice
2 Lg Tomatoes (or 4 small)
1 Lg Cucumber
1 Lime or Lemon
1 Jalapeno
1 Red Bell Pepper
Chunk of Purple Onion (about 1/4 of a small onion)
1 Small Bunch Cilantro
2 Stalks Celery

Tip: Feed the soft and wet things through your juicer first. They will mush and leave a lot of juice in the chamber. The crunchy veggies will come in behind them and pull all the juice through.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weekly Weigh In: Unleash Your Sexy Beast!

This week I used a combination of juicing and eating. After a 7-day Juicing Jump Start, I felt so good that I wanted to continue it. Unfortunately, we had three days in a row with events, at which we ate some not so good food (and too much, considering how much we have been taking in).

The interesting thing to me was the contrast in how I slept and felt after eating vs. how I slept and felt the next day after juicing. When I was juicing only, I always felt energetic and alert. I fell asleep quickly and slept more deeply than I have in years. I normally require 8 hours of sleep to feel great. During the week of juicing I got 6-6.5 hours each night and felt wonderful. It wasn't that I set my alarm and only allowed myself that amount of sleep. I still went to bed expecting to get 8 hours, but I would wake up after about 6 hours, feeling fully rested, wide awake and energetic. I am still absolutely impressed with the incredible amount of energy I have when juicing.

I start every morning with a pint jar of fresh citrus juice. Citrus is full of natural sugar so it is instant energy. I never need caffeine or sugar. It's worth noting that since starting my 7-days of juicing I haven't craved sugar AT ALL! It is amazing how the body does not crave sugar when it gets plenty of natural sugars (fruit) and intense nutrition satisfying what our bodies really need.

Even though you may be eating a lot, if you are not getting the nutrition that your body needs, you are actually creating a malnutrition situation. We tend to think of malnutrition in the context of people who don't get enough food and are dying of starvation. The truth is, you can actually be overweight and suffering from malnutrition. The definition of malnutrition is: "Lack of proper nutrition; inadequate or unbalanced nutrition". Your body has certain nutritional requirements in order to function properly. When those needs aren't met, your body starts craving. Without proper nutrition your body feels lethargic and tired and craves energy. In a nutshell, that's when you find yourself craving sugar for quick energy. If you notice that you crave food in general, and sugar specifically, when you haven't had enough sleep, that is what's happening. It isn't that you are extra hungry that day; it's that your body is craving energy and nutrition.

Back to the citrus juice. This time of year we have plenty of fresh citrus on the trees in Arizona, USA. In our yard we have oranges and tangelos. We have two trees of those little "cuties" you see ads for, enticing kids to eat them. They are really sweet and have great flavor. The only problem is that they have a lot of seeds. Because they are small and have lots of seeds, they are difficult to cut with this awesome Citrus Technique. They do make great juice however. I regularly juice them along with oranges and grapefruits (plenty of friends with extra grapefruits on their trees) so there is always a pitcher of fresh citrus juice in the fridge. Yes, mix all the juice together...equal parts grapefruit and orange. It makes the most fabulous fresh juice!

However, I like my citrus juice REALLY pulpy. So I will take a couple grapefruits and oranges (about 8 regular size oranges to 2 grapefruits), cut them up using the Citrus Technique  and then throw them in my Vita-mix on low speed. I fill my pint jars half way with this blended citrus and then fill them the rest of the way with regular citrus juice from the pitcher in the fridge. YUM! Super pulpy and filling. If you don't like all the pulp, then juice them regularly and fill your jars.

I have learned that when I go to bed with an empty stomach I sleep much better. If your body isn't spending all night trying to digest and process the food sitting in your stomach when you go to bed, it can relax and regenerate. It definitely makes for a more restful night of sleep.

So, what about weight loss this week? I did lose 2.5 lbs this week. I'm pretty happy to have lost anything considering all the events around food this week. I'm going to juice again for a few days. And definitely lay low this weekend (read:stay away from events which revolve around food!) I have 29 lbs to go and exactly 10 weeks to lose it to meet my goal by my birthday, June 7th. I'm on a roll!

I read this on the internet the other day: "They say you are what you eat. I don't remember eating a sexy beast this morning!" That's where we're headed friends! Find a reason. Make a commitment. Join in! Unleash your sexy beast!!

What is your health goal?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Healthy Habits: Roasted Veggies

Roasting is an easy way to prepare veggies with pumped up flavor. If there is a veggie you aren't crazy about, try roasting it and see if it isn't better. Honestly, I was never a huge fan of sweet potatoes until I started roasting them. (I know, they are one of the most nutritious veggies known to mankind; you'd think I would have been all over them. I wanted to be, just didn't embrace the flavor right away.) But so many different veggies can be prepared in this manner and have incredible taste!

In this pic I cut up baby red potatoes, carrots and squash (any kind will work). Spread them out on a baking sheet. (I always line my baking sheets with foil, no matter what I am baking; makes for super easy cleanup. I like to cook, not clean!)
Then I spray them with Olive Oil (regular OO or EVOO, whatever you prefer).
Then sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper.
Then I sprinkled them with dried rosemary. (Post coming soon on growing and drying your own herbs; they're so much better from your garden than the store!)
Sometimes I sprinkle a little cayanne pepper on the veggies; gives them a great flavor without making them hot.
Then put into a 400* oven (375* if your oven runs hot) for about 30 minutes (give or take, poke them to find out when they are tender).
Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) as soon as they come out of the oven, fingers start picking them off the tray. So I didn't even get a picture of the fully roasted veggies. Maybe I'll get one next time and insert it later.

That's how easy it is. They get a really nice brown, roasted exterior and are so tender to eat. Perfect to serve with chicken breasts or a juicy steak. Or for me, a plate of roasted veggie is perfectly satisfying by itself.

What is your LEAST favorite veggie? And Why?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Motivations: Dancing On Potato Chips

This story crossed my desk shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It resonated deeply with me as well as Doug. One particularly challenging day during chemo treatment I  went grocery shopping by myself. I thought I was doing pretty well, but as I was putting the groceries away I dropped the eggs. A whole carton, a dozen eggs, splat! On the floor! I stood there looking at them, thought of this story, and then......

Dancing On Potato Chips
Not too long ago I had "one of those days." I was feeling pressure from a writing deadline. I had company arriving in a couple days and the toilet was clogged. I went to the bank, and the trainee teller processing my deposit had to start it over three times. I swung by the supermarket to pick up a few things and the lines were serpentine.

By the time I got home, I was frazzled and sweaty and in a hurry to get something on the table for dinner. Deciding on a can of cream of mushroom soup, I grabbed a can opener, cranked open the can, then remembered I had forgotten to buy milk at the store. Nix the soup idea. Setting the can aside, I went to plan B, which was leftover baked beans. I grabbed a Tupperware from the fridge, popped the seal, took a long look and groaned. My husband isn't a picky eater, but even HE won't eat baked beans that look like caterpillars.

Really frustrated now, I decided on a menu that promised to be as foolproof as it is nutrition-free; hot dogs and potato chips. Retrieving a brand new bag of chips from the cupboard, I grabbed the cellophane and gave a big pull. The bag didn't open. I tried again. Nothing happened. I took a breath, doubled my muscle, and gave the bad a hearty wrestle. With a loud pop, the cellophane suddenly gave way, ripping wide from top to bottom. Chips flew sky high. I was left holding the bag, and it was empty. It was the final straw. I let out a blood curdling scream. "I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!"

My husband heard my unorthodox cry for help. Within minutes he was standing at the doorway to the kitchen, where he surveyed the damage: an opened can of soup, melting groceries, moldy baked beans, and one quivering wife standing ankle deep in potato chips. My husband did the most helpful thing he could think of at the moment. He took a flying leap, landing flat-footed in the pile of chips. And then he began to stomp and dance and twirl, grinding those chips into my linoleum in the process!

I stared. I fumed. Pretty soon I was working to stifle a smile. Eventually I had to laugh. And finally I decided to join him. I, too, took a lead onto the chips. And then I danced. Now I'll be the first to admit that my husband's response wasn't the one I was looking for. But the truth is, it was exactly what I needed. I didn't need a cleanup crew as much as I needed an attitude adjustment, and the laughter from the rather funky moment provided just that.

So no I have a question for you, and it's simply this: Has God ever stomped on your chips? I know that, in my life there have been plenty of times when I've gotten myself into frustrating situations and I've cried out for help, all the while hoping God would show up with a celestial broom and clean up the mess I've made of things. What often happens instead is that God dances on my chips, answering my prayer in a completely different manner than I had expected, but in the manner that is best for me after all. Sometimes I sulk. Sometimes I dance. I'm working on doing  more of the latter than the former. I guess the older I get the more I realize that He really does know what He's doing. He loves me and I can trust Him. Even when the chips are down. Author Unknown

......I began to laugh! And the more I laughed, the funnier it was. I was doubled over in laughter as I called Doug to share with him. "The potato chip bag burst, and they're all over the floor," I told him. "Only they're not potato chips, they're EGGS!" Then I was laughing again and Doug was laughing with me.

Click here for more Monday Motivations.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Weekly Weigh In: Results of 7-Day Juice Diet

Did you think I could do it...drink only raw juice and smoothies for one week?
Last week I said I was going on a Seven Day Juice DietI juiced from Saturday night to Saturday night. Doug juiced with me. Here's the skinny:

Why Did We Juice For A Week?
If you read Sick of It, you got the details. We were sick of going to bed on a full stomach after attending events with late meals. We were sick of our clothes not fitting well. We wanted to cleanse and detox. We were ready to feel energized, light and healthy. We needed to get back in control over what and when we ate. And last, but definitely not least, we wanted a jump start on our weight loss. You can read about My Weight Loss Goal here and Why I went Public with it.

How Did We Juice For A Week?
We went cold turkey from Saturday to Saturday. We gathered our favorite juice and smoothie recipes. We prepared a variety of juices each evening for the next day. (**see note below) We put the juice in glass pint jars with tight lids. We put no limits on the amount we would drink. We drank whenever we were hungry.

**Note: It is ideal to drink the juice as soon as you make it. When that is not possible, the best way to store fresh juice is in glass container, with a tight lid. Fill it to the top so there is little air to cause oxidation. With a high quality juicer your juice will be just fine for 24 hours.

What We Experienced
The very first night, I slept very deeply and felt great when I woke up. The next morning I had lost 4.5 lbs and Doug was down 2.5 lbs. We found that seeing immediate results was a huge motivation to continue our plan. Throughout our week of juicing we weighed every single day; we both experienced weight loss every day.

Each night I slept very deeply and woke feeling energized and healthy. I actually slept less than I normally do, yet had more energy. Even when I tried to stay in bed and get another hour or so (because I thought I needed more), I couldn't sleep. I woke up when my body was rested and felt alert and energetic. I never felt sluggish or lethargic throughout the week. Each night at bedtime I still felt energetic, yet when I went to bed I fell asleep quickly and slept very well. I never felt weak, tired or nauseous. I am still blown away by how little sleep I got and how much energy I had!

Neither of us ever felt deprived nutritionally. Whenever we felt hungry, we drank a jar of juice. The intense concentration of nutrition in the juice was like pouring energy directly into our veins. We felt satisfied and energized each time. It is very interesting to note that neither of us ever craved sugar, or anything else for that matter. Which proves to me that when our body gets proper nutrition it will be satisfied and not need to crave anything. When our bodies do not have the proper nutrition to sustain them, they look for something that will generate energy. Sugar is quick energy. That's why we crave sugar.

There were two days when we felt really hungry and wanted to eat. I found it interesting that for both  of us it was day 4 and day 6. We just felt really hungry on those days. As soon as we drank more juice we were satisfied and energized. On those days we drank 6-7 pint jars (jucie or smoothie). On those days we also made smoothies which add a little more bulk. Most days we drank 5 pint jars. A big part of wanting to eat is just putting something in your mouth and chewing it. As we talked about it we realized that after drinking juice we were satisfied, but the habit of eating made us want to chew something. But we didn't, and we're so glad we stuck to it because it went away.

Another interesting observation is in our choice of juice. I found that I needed variety in my juice. I wanted six jars of different types of juice in the fridge so when I was hungry I had a choice. I never wanted the same juice twice in the same day. Doug, on the other hand, preferred several jars of Carrot/Apple/Ginger Juice and then just one or two of another type.

How Much Weight We Lost
At the end of the seven days I had lost 12 lbs and Doug was down 10.5 lbs.
Here we are on Sunday with TEAM JULES at the Brain Tumor Walk with our friend Julie who is battling her second round with a brain tumor. I love her beautiful smile! She made it through the entire walk being pushed in her wheelchair. (I pulled a muscle in my calf that day and could have used a wheelchair!)
What We've Done Since Then
We had a couple of events to attend over the weekend where we did eat. We were cautious about eating too much too fast after a week of juicing. And going forward we wanted to eat much less and continue the weight loss. Even after eating light and healthy, we both felt a difference Monday morning in the quality of sleep we got and the level of energy we felt. We both wanted to continue juicing because of that. Doug's comment was "I think I'm addicted to feeling great!" So we decided that we would continue to juice and when we got that feeling that we really want to eat we would eat something healthy. We won't feel "stuck" juicing because we can eat any time. And we will continue to lose weight and feel great.

Today's Weekly Weigh in
Today is weekly weigh in always goes from Wednesday to Wednesday. After eating over the weekend I juiced Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday I had a big raw salad for dinner. This weeks weigh in shows me down 4.5 lbs.
Here are some of our favorite juice and smoothie recipes from the week:
Orange Juice Plus (I did NOT use the vanilla this week)

Have you ever done a juice fast or a juice diet? Would you consider doing it for improved energy, sleep and nutrition?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Juicy Gossip: Arizona Red Juice

Someone commented on the V38 Juice post and said, "It looks really good. I might try it, but I don't care for beets". What I didn't tell you is that I don't care for beets either! I can only think of two vegetables that I don't care for and they are eggplant and beets. It is probably, uh, highly likely, uh, definitely due to how they were prepared for us as kids. GROSS! I have learned that I do like eggplant parmesan, so I MAY be willing to try eggplant in some other recipe. Not sure I'm willing to go there yet. Okay, I'll go this far...if you can throw a killer eggplant recipe my way, I'll try it. I'll prepare it, eat it, blog about it, and credit you for converting me...(I'm such a positive thinker; already assuming that one of you will have a fabulous recipe that will change my attitude towards eggplant.)

On to beets...I don't "care for them" is a really nice way of saying I JUST DON'T LIKE THEM!! That being said, years ago after learning about the nutritional properties of beets, I tried juicing them, just on the off chance that the juice was better than eating the vegetable. It is fantastic juice! There are so many combinations to use it in that everyone can find one they really like. Some of my favorites are Carrot/Beet/Cucumber JuiceV38 Juice and this Arizona Red Juice. 

Did you know that beet juice beet juice increases blood flow to the brain? Beet roots contain high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. And nitrites help open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen. This means that beets juice reduces the risk for blood clots. A new study suggests that this super vegetable may fight the progression of dementia, according to researchers from the Translational Science Center at Wake Forest University.

Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. To you and me, this means that beets are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and they aid in detoxification. Beets start losing betalains as soon as they are heated; the loss steadily increases as the cooking time is increased. For this reason, the greatest health benefit is derived from raw beet juice. There are also lab studies on human tumor cells that confirm that beets are a highly-likely candidate for risk reduction of many cancer types.

On to the juice. I call it Arizona Red because as I'm juicing, the vibrant and rich reds and oranges that come out remind me of Arizona sunrises and sunsets. When combined, they produce a rich red, reminiscent of sunset. This juice is beautiful in color, and sweet in taste.

Arizona Red Juice
3 Carrots
1 Sweet Potato
2 Red Beets (Lg)
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Orange (peeled)
2 Apples (any sweet variety)

Don't be deceived by the first few  ingredients...this juice is sweet and smooth!
Note: Don't be alarmed if your urine and stools have a red tint. It is normal and expected when you drink beet juice.

Printable Recipe 

Is there a vegetable that you hate  don't care for? Would you be willing to try it in a juice recipe?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Motivations: Law of the Garbage Truck

Every once in a while you hear a short story that just makes absolute sense in life! My friend Shirley sent this to me, and I knew it was worth sharing; very short and very powerful! Check out the Monday Motivators tab for more great thoughts to start your week or share with your family or co-workers.

Law of the Garbage Truck
One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly.
So I asked, “Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!” This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck'.

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets.

So...Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't.
Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!

Have a garbage-free day!

Click here for more Monday Motivations.

Images courtesy of Google Images

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bacon & Eggs..But Not For Breakfast!

No, seriously, it's bacon and eggs. You can eat one. Or....
You can eat a whole plate full.  

Either way, it's just a really fun treat to make for Easter. And it's super easy to do.
If you like M&M treats, checkout these Pretzel Kisses. If you'd like some real bacon & eggs in an easy and fun way, here's how to make perfectly crisp bacon every time to eat with personal frittatas or an easy 3-minute omelette.

What you need:
White melting chocolate (either bar or discs)
Yellow M&M's (cheapest to buy a large bag and pick them out)
Pretzel sticks, each broken in half.

Prepare wax paper ahead of time by laying out on table or baking sheet.
Have yellow M&M's ready to go in a bowl.
Break pretzel sticks in half so they are ready to go.
It's important to have everything ready because the chocolate cools very quickly and the M&M's and pretzels won't stick.

Put white chocolate in a microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir.
Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted.
With a small spoon, drop a very small scoop of chocolate on the wax paper.
Gently press M&M into the chocolate on one side.
Gently press 2 pretzel sticks side by side, opposite of the M&M.

Note: If you are doing this by yourself, drop 3 chocolate eggs then stop and add the M&M and pretzels to them quickly. Then do 3 more. I found that doing any more than that gave the chocolate just enough time to start setting up and the M&M and pretzels won't stick. If you have someone to help you, they could come behind you and put the decorations on, allowing you to keep going with the chocolate drops.

One day when my in-laws were visiting I told them I made bacon and eggs for them and then presented each of them with one of these candies on a tiny plate. I also took a container full to church and told my Sunday School class that I had made bacon and eggs for all of them. They got quite excited. They were even happier when they discovered it was chocolate. It's just fun.

Happy Easter!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Juicy Gossip: V38

Yesterday I posted a sweet juice recipe (2COP Juice), so today I give you a savory recipe. This is a favorite as well as Gazpacho Juice, which I will post soon.

I wish I could fully capture the bright, rich red color of this juice. It truly is a beautiful color. (I'm thinking I need to build a light box for photos...probably need to talk to one of my photographer friends for tips on taking great pics of food and juice.)

I wasn't sure what to call this one. This juice is so packed full of vitamins and anti-oxidants it's crazy! And it's such a beautiful red color. I thought of V-Red, but settled on V38 ('cause there's way more vitamins in it than V8). You may also want to try Carrot/Beet/Cucumber Juice. Click on the Juicy Gossip tab for more juicing and smoothie recipes.

Just a word of caution - it stains, so don't drip it on your shirt.

You know, when I juice I see the vibrant and intense colors that naturally come from the vegetable plants. It's easy to see why Native Americans used these colors for paint. Especially beets. The juice of the beet is such a luscious red color. I enjoy looking at all the colors of the juice lined up.
V38 Juice
3 Lg Beets
2 Med-Lg Carrots
2 Lg Tomatoes (or 4 small)
1 Jalapeno, cut in half and remove seeds
12 Radishes
1 Bunch Parsley (about 4 cups if it were roughly chopped and packed in measuring cup)

Juice and mix well. Makes a great dinner drink. Enjoy!

What veggie do you not like to eat that we could hide in juice?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Juicy Gossip: 2COP Juice

It's day five of our seven day juice diet. I feel great. I am sleeping better. My body feels lighter, more energetic. But you don't have to do a 100% juice diet to reap the benefit of juicing. Even juicing once a day will improve your health and how you feel. The intense concentration of vitamins you get from juicing is like pouring energy straight into your veins. For that reason, I like to juice for breakfast. It helps me start my day with a clear mind and high energy. However, if you prefer to juice for dinner you will be getting all the nutrition you need without filling your stomach full of food that may sit heavy all night long.

A friend  of ours received a juicer as a wedding gift. It had been sitting in the attic for over a year. He was interested in juicing, but didn't know where to start. I invited him over and we made four or five juices so he could taste the difference and ask any questions he had about the equipment or the fruits and veggies. He went home and decided that he would juice for breakfast each morning. Other than that, he has changed nothing about his daily activity or diet. (I've known him since 1983 and rarely a day goes by that he doesn't have his BBQ or steak; a true carnivore.) He has now been juicing a little over 3 months. He just told me that he has lost 15 pounds. And he wasn't even trying! He feels healthier and more energetic as well.

Some of you have asked for specific juice recipes to try. I have lots, and I'm trying new combinations all the time. I will share one or two every couple of days. If you want something specific and I haven't posted it yet, let me know.

There are sweet juices and savory juices. Sweet juice does not mean it only has fruit in it. Certain veggies when combined with fruit will give you the nutrition of the veggie and the sweetness of the fruit.

I typically like to start my day with a sweet juice. Fruits are natural carbohydrates. Your body uses carbs for energy. I want to start my day with energy. Drinking a juice with fruit is like pouring energy straight into my bloodstream.

Side note on carbs...carbs themselves are not bad for you. Our bodies require carbohydrates for energy. What is bad for us is processed carbs. If it has white flour in it is processed. If you look at the ingredients of most wheat breads on the shelf they will have enriched, processed white flour in them. If you want the "staff of life" carbohydrates, you should look for 100% whole grain. If it says "enriched", "refined", "bleached", "unbleached" it is processed. In fact, "enriched" means that they have added vitamins back into the flour that were stripped away in the refining process. Crazy, isn't it? If we stick with the whole grain before refining, we get all the natural nutrition and carbs that the body can process well. Unfortunately, even white rice has been processed.

The bottom line is, when you get your carbs from fruit and whole grains your body can process it into energy and it doesn't sit and turn into fat. So don't be afraid of carbs, be afraid of PROCESSED CARBS!!

Anyway, that's why I like to start my day with sweet juices and end it with savory juices. One of my favorites is Mickey Mouse Juice. Click to see why I call it Mickey Mouse. Perfect example of getting veggies in with my fruit, but the juice is sweet and perfect for morning.

Another favorite is this 2COP juice. The name reminds me what ingredients I need...2 C's an O and a P.

2COP Juice
3 Carrots
1 Cucumber
1 Orange
1 Pear

This juice is has a good variety of vitamins while the fruit is the dominant flavor, making it another great morning drink. 

How frequently do you juice? Is there a fruit that you haven't been able to work into a juice yet?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Weekly Weigh In: Seven Days of Juicing

Have you noticed that as soon as you commit to eating healthy and losing a few pounds, suddenly "events" pop up all around you to make you say, "I'll start tomorrow"? Tomorrow keeps getting pushed out another day, and another day. If we are ever to make a change and improve our health, tomorrow needs to become today! There comes a moment when you get so sick of it that you are ready and willing to make a change; when you get so sick of not feeling strong, healthy and energetic that you are ready to make yourself a priority in your life.

I hit that moment Friday night. It came after the third time in a week that Doug and I had eaten large meals late in the evening. As we lay in bed, moaning and groaning about how miserable we felt with full stomachs, feeling angry that we hadn't just eaten a few bites (knowing that it was late), we both said, "I'm so sick of this! I'm done with feeling gross!" Right there we decided that we would go on a juice diet for a week...a full seven days. Juicing will give us intense nutrition and give our bodies a chance to detox from the sugar, fat and bulk of food we had been taking in. We juice at least once every day, but this would be ONLY juice for seven days.

Saturday morning, as we hiked a local trail, we talked about any food we might "miss" during the week of juicing. We decided that we would eat whatever we wanted that day, and the next morning, Sunday, we would start juicing. On our way home from the mountain we hit the drive through for french fries. I knew if I had fries, I would be good for months. That night we made bacon burgers for dinner with Homemade Whoope Pies for dessert.

Sunday morning I was SO ready to start juicing. It's important to be able to have choices for meals, even when juicing. Any time you try to eat (or drink) the same thing over and over with no variation, you will get tired of it and find it very difficult to stick with your plan. So each night I juice a variety of combinations and pour them into pint jars. I prepare 5-6 jars for each of us each day, with each jar being a different flavor. We created Carrot/Apple/Ginger Juice, Mickey Mouse Juice, and more.Tomorrow I'll share more recipes.

So here's what you have been waiting for. After three days of juicing I am down 9 lbs. We all know the first few pounds is water weight. Once that is gone, we can start to lose the fat. More importantly, I feel better. I have slept very deeply and well the last three nights and have an incredible amount of energy.

So here's the tough part. Monday morning when he got to work, Doug found that a co-worker had brought doughnuts and chocolate milk as a thank you for help given; he declined. Tuesday morning I attended a breakfast business meeting. I drank my juice before I left the house and ordered herbal tea for breakfast. Tuesday afternoon a vendor came into my office with a box of doughnuts; I put them in the kitchen for the staff and walked away. Today, Doug will attend a spring training baseball game with his work team where the company is buying them lunch (ballpark hot dogs); Doug will use his "lunch money" for a couple bottles of water (after all it's going to be 84* in Phoenix today!). Tomorrow I have a lunch date with a dear friend who I don't see very often. I will drink my juice before I meet her and order herbal tea for lunch. After all, it's seeing her that I'm looking forward to, not eating a specific meal. Saturday night (St. Patrick's Day) I am having dinner with my Mango Chica's, a close group of friends that have loved, laughed and been there for one another for more than 16 years. We will meet at one friends home where she is cooking a corned beef dinner with all the fixin's. I know it is the seventh day and the last meal of the day, but...I have committed to juicing for SEVEN FULL DAYS. I will take a jar of juice with me and drink it for my dinner. Again, the important part of this night is the friendship shared, not what I am eating.

I will do this for seven days to prove to myself that I can. I will do this because I know what the results will be and how great I will feel. I will do this because I made a commitment to Doug that I would do it with him for seven days, and I won't go back on that. I will do this because I'M SICK OF IT! I will do this because I want to feel strong and healthy! (Click here to see the results of 7-days of juicing)

What moment or time in your life have you realized you were sick of the way something was and committed to making a change?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Last week we talked about how to roast tomatoes and garlic. "What do I do with 16 roasted tomatoes?", you might ask yourself. Roasted tomatoes and garlic are the secret ingredients to my fabulous (yes, it really is!) Homemade Pasta Sauce (Try it, you won't want sauce out of a jar ever again). I will roast 15-16 tomatoes on a baking sheet and then use them all to make a huge pot of pasta sauce. It freezes well in any size container. At the beginning of the week I will move a container from the freezer to the fridge where it is ready to heat up to put over pasta or spaghetti squash for dinner any night of the week. 

I don't have a written recipe for my pasta sauce, so I'll just tell you how I do it and try to give you amounts. Like I said, I typically make a huge pot with 15-16 roasted tomatoes, so keep that in mind if you are making a smaller batch with only a few tomatoes.

Olive Oil
1 Med-Large Onion (white or yellow), chopped
Garlic - 1 Whole Head, roasted (click here for technique)
15-16 Roasted Tomatoes (click here for technique)
1 Large Green Pepper (or red or orange), chopped
1 -2 Carrots, chopped
1-2 Stalks Celery, chopped
Handful Basil Leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp Oregano
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Red Pepper Flakes

NOTE: Regarding the peppers, carrots & celery...if I have them, I use them. If I only have one of them, I use it. This recipe is not dependent on having all three. They add great nutrition and robustness to the sauce, but are not necessary for a great sauce. Also, everything can be chopped very roughly because it will be blended in the end.

ANOTHER NOTE: Because this sauce is homemade from fresh ingredients, it turns out more orange than red. We are so used to the red sauce we get from a jar or can (coloring added) that it may seem strange at first to see the light red or orange color of fresh homemade sauce. The flavor is so wonderful that you will soon forget that the color is different.

Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan or pot and turn on medium high heat. Add chopped onion, pepper, carrots and celery. Saute for a few minutes until onions are clear. Add tomatoes (just pick them up whole off the tray and put them in the pot) and garlic (the whole roasted head, that you squeezed out). Add a couple of pinches each of sea salt and black pepper and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. (add more as it cooks if you like a bigger kick).

With your wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes; they are soft and roasted and will smash easily. Add a handful of roughly chopped basil, (if using dried basil add about 1 Tbsp) and 1 Tbsp of oregano. Break everything up and mix together. Turn stove on low and simmer 15-30 minutes.

If I have time, I let it simmer longer...just makes for better flavor. When done simmering, turn off the stove and let it sit there. The flavors will continue to meld and intensify as the heat dissipates.

When it has cooled down, scoop it up into the blender. I don't really worry about exactly how much of everything gets into each batch I blend because I pour it into a giant bowl after blending. Continue to mix one blender full at a time until the pot is empty and the sauce is now completely blended and poured into the giant bowl. Then I can mix it up with my wooden spoon, making sure that the seasoning is fully mixed in. Once it's mixed up, I scoop it into containers for the freezer.

This pic is one that was in my freezer. My hard drive crashed and I lost a lot of pictures (Yeah, I know, I should have had them backed up!) so I am now short of pics for posts that I had planned. If I wait until I make another batch of homemade pasta sauce in order to get pictures of the pot, blender and bowl of sauce, it might be a while til you get this recipe. I promised the recipe, so will make do with the pics I have.

I absolutely love this pasta sauce and I'm confident you will too. Doug and I like it a little spicy, so I add more red pepper flakes. It is so good over spaghetti squash or angel hair pasta. Sprinkle some fresh parmesan or parmigiano reggiano on top for true Italian flavored homemade pasta sauce. Mangia!

What is your favorite thing to do with pasta sauce?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Motivations: Change Begins With Choice

I have always been a fan of business philosophers and motivational guys, and Jim Rohn is one of the best. This story came from his free weekly email, which you can subscribe to here. I love the applies to all of us...and I love the story in the middle.
                                                                                      Jim Rohn
Change Begins with Choice
by Jim Rohn
Any day we wish, we can discipline ourselves to change it all. Any day we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish, we can start a new activity. Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.
We can also do nothing. We can pretend rather than perform. And if the idea of having to change ourselves makes us uncomfortable, we can remain as we are. We can choose rest over labor, entertainment over education, delusion over truth, and doubt over confidence. The choices are ours to make. But while we curse the effect, we continue to nourish the cause. As Shakespeare uniquely observed, "The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves." We created our circumstances by our past choices. We have both the ability and the responsibility to make better choices beginning today. Those who are in search of the good life do not need more answers or more time to think things over to reach better conclusions. They need the truth. They need the whole truth. And they need nothing but the truth.

Reminds me of the story about a large, majestic mountainside where a fragile eagle's nest contained four large eagle eggs. One day an earthquake rocked the mountain causing one  of the eggs to tumble down the mountain to a chicken farm, located in the valley below. By instinct the chickens knew they must protect and care for the egg, so an old hen volunteered to nurture the large egg.

One day, the egg hatched and a beautiful eagle was born. But the eagle was raised to be a chicken. Soon, the eagle believed he was nothing more than a chicken. The eagle loved his home and his family, but his spirit cried out for more. While playing a game on the farm with some of his chicken friends one day, the eagle looked to the skies above and noticed a group of mighty eagles soaring in the skies. "Oh," the eagle cried, "I wish I could soar like those birds." The chickens roared with laughter, "You cannot soar with those birds. You are a chicken and chickens do not soar."
 The eagle continued staring, at his real family above, dreaming that he could be with them. Each time the eagle would let his dreams be known, he was told it couldn't be done. The eagle, after time, stopped dreaming and continued to live his life like a chicken. 
Finally, after a long life as a chicken, the eagle died - a chicken.

What's the moral of the story? If you listen to the chickens around you, you'll live and die like them - a chicken! Inside you is that eagle. This is your call to soar. You are an eagle. it is time to follow YOUR dreams and not the words of chickens.

We cannot allow our errors in judgement, repeated every day, to lead us down the wrong path. We must keep coming back to those basics that make the biggest difference in how our life works out. And then we must make the very choices that will bring life, happiness and joy into our daily lives.

And if I may be so bold to offer my last piece of advice for someone seeking and needing to make changes in their life: If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree. You have the ability to totally transform every area in your life. And it all begins with your very own power of choice!

In what areas do you feel the eagle inside of you trying to get out?
Are you willing to make a change?

Click here for more Monday Motivations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Juicy Gossip: Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie

I love berry smoothies. Maybe that should be LOVE, not love. One of my favorites is this sweet green smoothie. It's deceiving because it looks green (and is super healthy) yet it tastes sweet like you would expect a fruit smoothie to taste.

I first saw this recipe for the Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie on I like the idea of getting some whole grain into the smoothie and I know oatmeal can blend up as fine as you would like it. I'm going to give you some variations on this one. I like variations because I don't always have the same ingredients available.

I also found that making this smoothie by her original recipe it was very "drink like". Does that make sense? It was smooth and runny. By changing just one thing I made it more frozen and "icy'. It can also be made with any other berry and the flavor will change accordingly.

Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie
1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 Large Ripe Banana
1/3 Cup Old Fashioned or Rolled Oats
1 Cup Almond Milk (or Soy Milk or Rice Milk or Skim Milk)
1 Tbsp Shelled Hemp Seeds
1 tsp Chia Seeds

Put the liquid in the blender first, then add all ingredients. Blend everything together until smooth.

If you like it thicker and icier, use a frozen banana. (Since I have a thing about eating bananas once they get a little soft and have brown spots, I peel them, break them in half and freeze them in freezer baggies. So I always have a supply of frozen bananas for smoothies.)

You could also make it thicker by sticking with a fresh ripe banana and adding a scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder.

If you aren't familiar with Chia Seeds, I think this is a pretty good source for the Top 10 Benefits of Chia Seeds.
If you don't have blueberries, use strawberries or blackberries or a mixture of both.
The smoothie in this picture is blueberry and is made with a frozen banana so make it icier. You don't taste the oatmeal at all, but get the nutritional benefit of the grain.

Do you have a favorite flavor that you would like to be able to incorporate into a smoothie?