Friday, April 26, 2013

Citrus Blast Smoothie

Is it time for a new smoothie recipe? Something bright, light, energizing and zingy (not a word? Oh well!) This Citrus Blast is just that. I love how it looks like a creamsicle in my glass. I love the cool, crisp zing of this refreshing smoothie. Kudos to my friend Julie for the original idea. So, here it is...

Juice of 2 Red or Pink Grapefruit
4 Carrots
Small Chunk Ginger
2 Lg Scoops Ice

Juice the grapefruit with a hand juicer, then pour into your blender.
I like to peel the carrots when I am blending them. (I don't peel them when juicing; click here to learn about blending vs juicing)
Break the carrots in half and add to blender.
Peel the small chunk of ginger and add to blender.
At this point I like to blend it til the carrots are well broken down.
Then add 2 big scoops of ice and continue to blend til smooth.
This works best in a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix. If you are using a standard kitchen blender it may take a little longer to blend.

If you aren't used to ginger in fresh juice or smoothies, I recommend starting with a small chunk, maybe 1/4 inch piece. It can be overwhelming if it is a new flavor to you. With that small of a piece you won't even know it's in this smoothie. This Carrot/Apple/Ginger Juice is a great place to start using ginger. Everyone likes this juice. Again, I recommend starting with a small piece of ginger and increase the size each time to find the exact amount that tastes good to you.

This smoothie is easy to adjust to your taste. If the grapefruit are small or you like a little more zing, use 3 or 4. If they are HUGE (like this one from my backyard) 2 might be okay.
If you like extra ginger, add it. If you like it a little thinner, add more ice. Don't ever feel like you have to use a recipe exactly as is. change it up to meet your taste preference.

Question of the day: Do you have a fruit or vegetable that you would like to work into juicing or smoothies but don't yet have a recipe?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Homemade Gatorade

One of the things I love best about living in Arizona is the abundance of fresh citrus in the winter. It's everywhere...oranges, tangerines, tangelos, grapefruit, lemons...fresh citrus juice and segments every, love, LOVE it!
This year we had a freeze that lasted for a solid week. That's a long time in Phoenix; typically it's a couple of days here and there, not consistent for any length of time. It was cold enough that our fountain was frozen. There was concern about losing the citrus. Thankfully, everything around us survived. 
Here comes one of the easiest and best copycat recipes I've seen. This recipe came to me from my fabulous brother Eric. Eric is an incredible cook and shares some amazing recipes with me. He has worked at one of the best (unnamed) restaurants in Vegas for well over 20 years. Maybe one day I will share (with his permission, of course) some of his favorite recipes. He makes amazing sauces (peanut, hoisen, etc) and candy.

Anyway, Eric shared this super easy Homemade Gatorade recipe with me and I love it!

6 Oranges
1/2 Lemon
1 Cup Coconut Water

Juice the oranges and lemon
Add in the coconut water

Super simple. Super good.

Haven't heard of coconut WATER? It is the juice in the interior of a young coconut. (not to be confused with coconut MILK, which is made by squeezing grated coconut meat). Coconut water  is sweet and sterile and contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes and amino acids....all the things people drink Gatorade for. Coconut water is high in calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc and is also a good source of B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and potassium. I actually could write an entire article about the benefits of coconut water talking about how it aids digestion, helps reduce high blood pressure and increases metabolism...but I won't. Let's just say that coconut water tastes great and is very good for your health!

And here it is...looks like a glass of juice; tastes like Gatorade.

Do you have a favorite copycat recipe to share with me?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weekly Weigh In: My Embarrassing Admission

I haven’t written a Weekly Weigh In post for several months now. Just a couple days after my last post I was scheduled for another total hip replacement surgery. It wasn't even a year since my first hip replacement. Thank goodness I only have two hips! While I wasn't looking forward to going through the surgery again, I was really looking forward to being out of pain. It had gotten so bad with this hip that I was on crutches for four weeks PRIOR to surgery. When I hobbled into the Doctor's office for my pre-surgery appointment on crutches, they all stopped, looked confused and said, "wait, you haven't had your surgery yet, have you?" In other words, 'you're not supposed to be on crutches until AFTER surgery'.

The truth is, my surgeon had tried to talk me out of the first hip replacement because I'm "too young". When the pain was so bad that I could not do daily activities, I insisted on the surgery. The day after the surgery, he came in to my hospital room and said, "You were right! Your hip was so chipped up and was bone on bone. If we had gone in to do a 'clean up' I would have closed you up and told you to come back for a total hip replacement." It's not that I wanted to be right, but I have a real high pain tolerance, so when it gets to a point that I can't take it anymore, it's usually way past surgery time.

Second time around was a repeat...again Doc tried to talk me out of it. "You're too young", he said. "The MRI doesn't look THAT bad." Of course, he admitted that the MRI couldn't ever show the bone inside of the joint. Again, I insisted. I agreed to wait long enough to put 12 months between the two hip replacements (almost to the day). Again, the day after surgery, he came into my room, shook his head, and said, "You were right, AGAIN!" Again, I reminded him that I didn't WANT to be right, but I knew my body.
This time I had asked him to take pictures of my hip joint. I really wanted to see what was causing such pain. (I wish I had thought to ask for pics of the first one.) I hope this doesn't gross you out. They're actually very clean pictures; so here are two pictures of the ball part of my hip. They were taken with the Doctors cell phone, so quality wise, we got what we got.
You should have a layer of cartilage that completely covers the ball to protect it. If you look closely, you can see the cartilage on the outside has been worn very thin and the middle has been worn completely off, exposing bone. This just means that every time I moved it was rubbing bone on bone. Oh, is that all? Makes sense, with the amount of pain I felt. hip replacement was late May. Surgery went spectacularly! When I left the hospital I was weeks ahead of where I was last year physically, same surgery, other hip. Why the difference? Well, that's for another post (too long to put in here). I promise I'll write that one soon because a lot of people have asked me why this surgery went so much better and I am healing so much faster this time. It is really quite interesting...well, I think it is.

But I still haven't told you about my embarrassing admission. Yes, it has to do with my weekly weigh in. I was updating my medical history this morning...when you've had as many surgeries as I have, you have to print your medical history on a full page of paper to give to Dr's for your file. There is no way to even begin to write it in the two lines they give you.

Anyway...I was updating my medical history this morning and I realized that I have had SEVEN surgeries in the last three years and (the embarrassing admission) gained 7 pounds with each one of them!! Seven pounds...okay, not so much. But times that by six...that's 42 POUNDS!!! Wow! I suddenly find myself 49 pounds heavier than I should be.

Five years ago I fought to lose 65 pounds and get back in shape after having 30 weeks of chemo and 6 surgeries in 12 months. I finally felt like "myself" again..strong and healthy. Now I am the first to say that being strong and healthy is a lifestyle, not a diet that gets you there and then you're done. But there is definitely a different approach to losing the weight to get back to that state and maintaining it once you are at that healthy place. I'm also not a huge proponent of aiming for a particular weight. I believe too many people get hung up on a number (or a size) that they have heard should be their ideal weight. Every body is different. I believe you know your healthy weight when you feel good, you feel strong, your clothes fit comfortably (in the appropriate size) and you know (if you are honest with yourself and not being "hollywood critical") that you look good.

So how does someone who loves fruit and veggies, juices every day and blogs about a healthy lifestyle get 42 pounds overweight? Each one of these surgeries left me unable to exercise (including walking) for an extended period of time. I was used to eating the amount of calories that I could handle while running 5 miles a day. Obviously, I didn't adjust my caloric intake once I wasn't able to exercise. Another contributor was all my well meaning friends who brought lots of great treats to "cheer me up" after surgery. Or took me to lunch so I could get out of the house a little.

And so, here I am, with 42 pounds to lose. I acknowledge it. I accept responsibility for it. I don't like it. I don't like how hard I'm going to have to work to get it off, but I'm willing to do it because today I am sick and tired of carrying it around. It drains me of energy and strength. I can't fit into my clothes, and I refuse to by a new wardrobe in a bigger size. Try picking up a 25 pound bag of potatoes and carrying it around your house for a while. I'll bet you don't get very far before you set it down thinking, "there is no way I can carry that all day!". When you gain external perspective like that, you begin to understand the extra stress you are putting on your body by being 25 pounds over weight.

So my question(s) to you is this. Are you interested in taking this journey with me? Whether 'Weekly Weigh In' or 'I'm Losing It, Again!'? Do you have a personal goal to improve your health? Is it motivating to you to read my progress? Would you share challenges with me and comment with your progress to help motivate others?

Leave a comment with your opinion and your thoughts on your personal health goals and what would be motivating to you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Motivations: How Are You Spending Your Dash?

Last Saturday we attended funeral services for a dear friend who was vibrant and loving, even to the end of her 2 1/2 year battle with brain cancer at the young age of 49. Two days ago we held funeral services for my Father-in-law, who passed at age 83; having lived a full and productive life, he was also taken by cancer. We are grateful his illness was fairly short and did not drag out his suffering.

Interacting with a friend and family member in their last days and reflecting upon their time on this earth during the celebrations of their lives reminded me of this poem written by Linda Ellis. Reading it always makes me contemplate how I am spending my "dash".

The Dash
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what the little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own,
The cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile...
Remembering that this special dash
May last only a little while.

So, when your eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Wesley Douglas Hobbs, Jr. 1925 - 2012
Julie A Jacobsen 1962 - 2012

For more Monday Motivations Click Here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Motivations: Who Packed Your Parachute?

I've seen a lot of people do a lot nice things for others, often with no acknowledgement or thanks. This week it made me think of Charles Plumb; I share his story with you below. I hope people recognize and acknowledge their "parachute packers" while they still can.

Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.
"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.
The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!"
Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he had looked like in a navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything, because you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.

He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute.

He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges  that life gives us, we miss what is really important.

We may fail to say hello, please or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes!
Have a great week!
For more Monday Motivations Click Here.

All images courtesy Google Images.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Homemade Orange Cleaner

I love living in Arizona where we have fresh oranges, grapefruits and lemons almost year round. I'm also a huge fan of finding ways to use, reuse and upcycle so that nothing goes to waste. So when I heard this idea of making homemade orange cleaner, I had to try it. It was super simple and super effective. It also feels good to use cleaner that is all natural and smells good...I like doing my part for the "green movement". So here's how easy it is.

If you have a whole bag of oranges, use this Citrus Technique to cut them up. Layer the cut peels into a glass jar. If you only eat one orange a day, that works too. Just add the peels to the jar each day until it is full. 
Once the jar is full of peel, pour while vinegar into the jar covering all peels.
Put the lid tightly on the jar. Then let it sit 10-14 days. See how simple that is?
Don't open it during this time...just let it sit! The vinegar pulls the natural oil from the citrus peels.

When 10-14 days have passed, open the jar and pour the citrus oil into a spray bottle, filling to half way. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with water making a 50/50 mixture of citrus oil and water. Shake just a little to mix it and you are ready to clean. This cleaner works great on sinks, counters, windows, floors, showers...well, just about anywhere.

I also tried it with lemon peels and it worked just as well. 
Really, the only cost to this cleaner is the vinegar, because you are using the throw away part of the orange as you eat them, and not purchasing oranges specifically for this. I used a pint jar for the lemons, and a quart jar for the orange peels.

What is your favorite reuse, recycle or upcycle tip?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Banana Nut Choc Chip Muffins

I really like bananas. They are, in fact, one of my favorite fruits. That is, as long as they are yellow and firm. I cannot eat a banana that is soft; not even one that has just started getting soft. So in my mind, bananas have a very short window of perfection. They might be partially green when I purchase them. Within a day or two they will be perfect...completely yellow, firm, with no brown spots. They must be eaten within a couple days of that perfection. As soon as they sprout brown spots and are soft to the (gentle) squeeze...uh uh...past it's prime and I won't eat it.

That being said, I never throw bananas away. As soon as they are soft, I remove the peel, break the banana in half and add it to a baggie in my freezer. These frozen bananas are perfect for Smoothies. In fact, you need to let the banana get a little soft before freezing it. This enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit. I always have a baggie of frozen banana halves in the freezer ready to go for smoothies.

But every now and then I'm not paying attention and the bananas on the counter get past the "perfect to freeze softness" and are just plain mushy. I still don't like to throw them away, so that calls for a batch of Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins or some Banana Nut Oatmeal. Note: the softer the bananas are the sweeter they will taste. These muffins are quick to whip up and perfect for lunch boxes...or setting on the counter for kids to grab as they run in and out all summer.

This recipe makes 36 muffins.

6 Large Very Ripe Bananas
1 Cup Oil
3 Eggs

2 Cups Sugar
4 Cups White Flour **see tip 1 below
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Baking Powder

1 1/2 Cup Walnuts, Chopped Roughly
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 300*.
Mix wet ingredients in the blender. Pour into a large bowl.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing in a little at a time until fully incorporated.
Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake 20 min at 300*.
TIP 1: Whole wheat flour and white flour can be mixed 50/50. Sift the wheat flour and it will bake a little lighter.

TIP 2: Bakes well as loaves instead of muffins. Large loaves will bake in about 60 minutes. Small loaves will take 20-30 minutes.

Printable Recipe

What is your favorite recipe for using overripe bananas?
For more Passion For Excellence recipes Click Here.