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Juice Cleansing for the First Time – My Story

16 Jul

This past week was a first for me – I made the decision and went through with a 3-day juice cleanse!

In a previous post, I talked why I chose to do a cleanse; suffice it to say that I am always looking to improve my health and wellness and I thought that doing a cleanse would be a great way to accomplish that. I wound up choosing the Long Weekend Cleanse from the Reboot Your Life website. They laid out all of the ingredients and recipes that I would be using so that planning was a cinch. I made a giant Whole Foods run the night before and had to pick up a few extra items on Day 2.

The night before, I separated out all of the ingredients that I would need for the first 3 juices of Day 1. I did this so that I was scrambling in the morning before work  – I’m a bit of a planning freak! I also made sure that my kitchen was nice and clean (clean kitchen for a clean body!) and that I labeled jars for each “meal” since I would be taking them to work.

My clean kitchen!

Day 1

The morning of Day 1, I got up bright and early and started my morning off with the recommended glass of hot water with lemon. I grabbed all of my stuff out of the refrigerator and juiced up a storm, making 3 batches for the beginning of my day. I was super excited to get started and loved the variation of colors in all of the juices. I appreciated that I wouldn’t have to drink the same thing for 3 days straight.

Day 1 Morning Juices

I dove into my first juice (carrot, apple, and ginger) and was able to enjoy that with some light reading before work. I was hungry when I woke up, and this definitely took the edge off. It was a small batch (picture above), so it went down pretty quickly and I started to feel hunger again in about an hour and a half. The morning snack of cucumber, celery, apple, kale, lemon and ginger juice was also pretty palatable and I was able to drink it while I was working. Lunch was called a gazpacho juice and it was pretty true to it’s name!

I noticed right away that all of these “meals” added up to quite a liquid intake – something I am definitely NOT used to! My boyfriend, who would carry a gallon of water with him everywhere if he could, constantly nags me to drink more water but I have never been one to chug anything. I was sipping on these juices at a fairly slow pace and had not finished my lunch juice by the time I got home after 3 that day. By the time I finished lunch, did some cleaning, exercised, and prepped for Day 2, I had only finished 4 out of the 5 prescribed juices for the day. Instead of forcing myself to make and drink a 5th jar, I decided that as long as I was sticking to a juice-only regiment, I should be ok with being a little short. I was thankful to end the night with some green tea with Stevia as my reward.

My new favorite mug!

My energy throughout the day was pretty great – I normally sneak in a midday nap if I am dragging, but I didn’t feel like I needed it at all. I was able to run in the morning, do laundry, go to work, run errands, attend a yoga class, and do some household stuff without even feeling it! Woohoo! You never really realize how much time you spend cooking and eating food – I had so much extra time on my hands!

Day 2

I woke up hungry on Day 1, but I was surprised to notice that I really was not hungry on Day 2. I had done the same prepping, so I was ready to get started as soon as I got up! I made 3 batches again and was super excited to try my breakfast juice – blackberry, grape, and apple juice with ginger. Best juice of all 3 days!

Day 2 Juices

I woke up not really wanting anything, but the breakfast juice got me back into the groove again. I had about the same timing with Day 2 as I did with Day 1 – it took me a while to get the Lunch juice down because it was my least favorite of the bunch. Something about juicing beets just doesn’t sit well with me! As the recipes went on, I found that they had less and less fruit in them, which made them harder and harder to drink for me. By the time the Afternoon Snack juice came around, I knew I had to start adding some citrus or other fruits to make it through the end of the day and the next. The snack juice was supposed to contain fennel, cucumber, spinach, and celery, but I went ahead and added some lemon and jalapeno – MUCH better! 🙂

I was up pretty late that night doing various things -my energy was CRAZY high and I had so much time on my hands that I just couldn’t sit still! I wound up having a late dinner that night – cabbage, broccoli, lemon, green apple and ginger. It was actually pretty darn good except for one small oversight – I didn’t clean out the juicer well enough from the earlier juice and wound up with jalapeno in my dinner! I definitely wasn’t expecting that kick!

I wound up skipping the tea on Day 2 – I was full when I went to sleep and slept really great throughout the night!

Day 3

Surprisingly, I woke up hungry on Day 3! I started out with water with lemon while I juiced 2 batches – I was only going to be out of the house for a short while, so I didn’t want to make too much in advance. I drank some of my morning juice while I got ready for work. When I got in, I had a 2 hour rehearsal/performance and I got distracted from my drinking. I also had an audience of 40+ people, so I did not want to whip out a massive mason jar and start swigging green elixir in front of them! I stuck with water until I was done, which meant I hadn’t finished my first jar by the time 2:15 rolled around. Needless to say, I was hungry! I wasn’t really enjoying the breakfast juice anymore, so I switched over to the morning snack without finishing it.

Day 3 Juices

I made it home around 3:30 and continued to finish my morning snack. I left the house again around 4:45 to go to yoga (5:30-6:45) and did not take a juice with me – I only carried a large water bottle. After class I took a small detour to do some shopping (couldn’t resist!) and was home around 8:00. That’s a LONG time to go without anything! I made a small batch of the dinner juice – it was named “tabbouleh juice” and had tomato, red onion, parsley, lemon, and cucumber – and finished that while I relaxed. By the time I went to bed that night, I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I thought it would be best to end my night with some more tea and water.

Breaking the Cleanse

Because of all the exercising I had been doing throughout the week, my body decided that it would be a great idea to sleep for 10 hours that night – great idea, right? Wrong! Because of how little I actually drank the day before and how long I had slept without taking in anything, I woke up feeling shaky and a bit strange. Of course, I do not fault the cleanse at all for that; my juice intake the day before was my own doing and this was the consequence! I had read that you need to ease back into eating solid foods, even with a cleanse as short as mine, so I cut up an apple and slowly ate a quarter of it at a time until the shakes stopped. Apple had never tasted so good! I waited an hour or so before having a morning snack of orange slices – they were so pretty that I had to snap a picture!

LOVE that color!

For the rest of the day, I kept my portions small and my food on the raw side (I did have some wheat toast with my peanut butter and banana sandwich later in the day). I tried to eat slowly because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat as much as I had a week before. I had a spinach salad for dinner and when I got hungry a couple of hours later, I had half of an avocado. My body reacted really well to all of the food that I put in it, and I was feeling good again!

Wrap-up

Would I do a juice cleanse again? Yes, I think so. Would I do it the same way? Definitely not. Here’s what I would do differently:

  • I wouldn’t stick solely to the recipes. I know they are there to guide you, but certain things make me feel just a bit ill (like beets). Definitely stick with more veggies than fruit, but don’t be afraid to add something sweet or sour to make it more palatable.
  • I would make smaller batches that were less formidable for my small little self to drink. I would also try to set my drinking and batches to a schedule – if I know when I should be finished, I will avoid the chance of getting hungry or dizzy.
  • I would try to schedule it so that I wouldn’t have to juice so much ahead of time – to me, everything tastes so much better when it is fresh. Leaving those veggie juices to sit in the fridge for a few hours before getting them definitely changed the flavor. I’ve also read that it reduces the nutrients, and we don’t want that!

There were so many benefits to the cleanse – ridiculous energy (two work outs a day and then some), feeling cleaner and lighter, knowing I’m doing something good for my body – that I would definitely recommend trying it. As always, do your research and consult a physician if you have any medical problems or concerns.

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? What was your experience? Please share in the comments section!

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App Review: Animal-Free

27 Apr Animal-Free Icon

As a brand new vegan (I made the decision last week to cut out fish, my last big item…WOOHOO!), one of the most frustrating parts of shopping is looking at a label and not understanding half of the ingredients in a product. What is that 7-syllable word? If I can’t say it, how am I supposed to know if it is an animal product? That’s where my new favorite app, Animal-Free, comes in!

Animal-Free Icon

Animal-Free Icon

Animal-Free is designed for those of us that can’t memorize all of those crazy words but are still trying to live a plant-based life without too much hassle. The app contains alphabetical lists of both vegan and animal based products, with an in-depth explanation of each item. Animal-Free even divides animal ingredients into lists that are always animal based (such as bone char) and those that are sometimes animal based (like sugar – cane sugars are not vegan while beet sugars are). There’s even an option to scan a barcode and find a product in the database!

Here is a run down of how to use the app and some screenshots so you can see for yourself:

When you are looking at the animal ingredients in Animal-Free, you have the option of scrolling through on your own or skipping through the list using the letters on the right side of the screen. When you click on a specific ingredient, you get a screen much like the one on the right panel – the app gives you a detailed definition of how each item is derived (the one I picked has been in the news recently because of its use in Starbucks drinks). I really like that the app gives you some background instead of just a yes/no when it comes to whether an ingredient is animal derived. Learning is a HUGE part of this process for me and I appreciate that the creators took the time to include that information.

Animal Ingredients Collage

Animal Ingredients

When you hit the “V” at the bottom of the screen, the app takes you to a list of vegan ingredients that you may find on labels. Again, it’s all alphabetized and you get the great description when you click on the item. I’m a big fan of the color scheme that they chose to use – the green really pops and helps convey the fresh and healthy vibe that vegan eating really stands for!

Vegan Ingredients Collage

Vegan Ingredients

Another great feature of Animal-Free is its ability to search the database by both ingredient and product. I found searching by product to be the most helpful – you can type in whatever item you are looking at in the store (I used Daiya cheese as an example) and the app will locate any items that fall into that category. Once you click on the specific item that you want, the app provides you with a screen full of information about the product, as well as if it is vegan or not (ratings are according to user votes). You also have the option  to vote to increase reliability of the database in the app.

Product Search Collage

Product Searching

Lastly, Animal-Free gives you the option to scan the barcode of an item. While this is a great idea and could potentially be very useful, the database is not very large as of yet, and I could not locate the test items that I scanned before writing this post. I also really liked that they give you the option to shine your camera’s flash on the barcode to make for easier scanning. I would love to see the barcode feature and database in the app improve in the future because I do think it will be extremely useful to many consumers.

Barcode Scanner

Barcode Scanner in action

Overall, I really liked the functionality of Animal-Free and what it offers to people of all walks of life. Beginning vegans and those that have been at it for a while can benefit from the information found in this app, making it an excellent resource. Currently, Animal-Free is available for the iPhone (there is not an iPad version of the app, but the iPhone version can still be downloaded onto it) and is FREE! If you try it out, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

What is your favorite vegan-related app? Please share your finds in the comments section!

Preparation and Organization

9 Apr

My journey towards a vegan lifestyle has made one thing very clear: PREPARATION IS KEY! From doing your research before beginning a new diet, to planning your grocery shopping trips and weekly meals, being prepared and planning ahead can make the difference between a healthy, tasty meal and a processed dinner from a box.

Here are a few tips for keeping things organized for the week:

Set a day to grocery shop

For me, I always head to Whole Foods on Monday after work. I choose to travel a bit out of the way to this particular store because of the beautiful organic fruits and veggies that they offer. The employees are always super friendly and extremely helpful when you have questions and concerns. The first time I picked up a bag of Daiya cheese, I asked the checkout clerk if he had ever tried it and what it tasted like – I explained that it was my first time and I was nervous about the difference. He was nice enough to comp the entire bag for me so that I could give it a try without any worries. Such a great company model!

Whole Foods in Reno, NV

Once it begins again, I will also be grabbing some items at the weekly Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood. Even though it’s not the biggest, i love walking through the stands and seeing the same familiar faces each week. It makes me feel good to support local farmers while also getting quality ingredients for myself!

Depending on what you plan to make each week, you may need to make more than one trip to the grocery store in order to have the freshest produce possible. I tend to plan meals that use veggies that stay fresh in the fridge the longest for the end of the week since it’s tough to find time to head to Whole Foods twice a week.

Plan your meals ahead of time

Because my shopping day is Monday, I use about an hour or so on Sunday to plan my meals for the week. I try to try a few new recipes each week, but I take into account what I already have in the kitchen so that I am not overspending. I also think about portion sizes – I’m cooking for myself during the week, but I also like to pack my lunch for work so that my diet doesn’t suffer. So, I typically make between two and four portions of everything so that it lasts. Things like soup and pasta sauce get frozen and saved for a later, busier week.

One of the biggest assets to my dietary change has been AllRecipes.com. Not only have I been able to find a ton of vegan recipes, but I have found vegetarian recipes that I have been able to adapt and other recipes that contain meat that have inspired some of my veggie dishes. One of the features that I like the most is the ability to create your own virtual “Recipe Box” and create a “Shopping List” from those recipes. I use the shopping list feature to add ingredients from other recipes not found on the site so that I can work from one list instead of multiples. It only takes a second to create a free account and all of these great tools are at your disposal (I will be writing a more detailed AllRecipes post soon).

My Vegan Deliciousness Pinterest Board

Pinterest has also been a HUGE help with finding new vegan recipes and recipes that cabe adapted. I follow other vegans that I know in real life and from other social media sites (like Twitter) and I am able to see the recipes that they pin and re-pin. About once a week, I also do my own search for recipes with the #vegan label on them and pin accordingly. Whenever I am browsing the web on my own, I use the “Pin It” feature in my browser to add great recipes to the Pinterest world. Using Pinterest helps me to keep all of the recipes I find from different blogs in one set place – I never have to wonder where a link is when I need it!

Here’s a link to my board called “Vegan Deliciousness” – it has images of vegan recipes that I’ve pinned (just click on the board name). I’ve tried some and I’m looking forward to making others!

Organize your fridge

When I made the decision to begin phasing out animal products, I set aside a couple of hours to really clean out my fridge. I tossed everything that might have been out of date (healthy or not) and everything that was chock full of sugar, preservatives, and animal products. I took everything out that was left and gave the fridge a thorough cleaning and then organized the food into new, easier to handle sections – things like citrus fruit, which tends to give more juice when it’s room temp, got moved to the fruit bowl outside. Instead of stacking layers of veggies on top of each other in the drawers, bruising them easily, I use trays and containers to lay them out. It also makes everything easier to see – I love all of the awesome colors that wind up in the fridge after shopping day!

I found a great list of ways to organize and store specific fruits and veggies on a blog called “My Thirty Spot” – click here to read about the various ways you can maximize the life of your produce!

Organized and Healthy Fridge

Have a plan

I like to try to prep certain food items ahead of time, if at all possible. Things like cutting hulling strawberries and chopping celery for smoothies can be done days in advance. If I buy something like a whole pineapple, I will cut it up whenever I have a free few minutes so that it is ready for recipes and a healthy snack. I also try to group recipes together that have a common ingredient – something like fresh garbanzo beans. Fresh beans need to be soaked before being cooked, so I will make a ton of them and then use them in various recipes for the week. By doing small prep ahead of time, you will save yourself some hassle and work later in the week when you may not have the extra time.

These are just a few tips for staying organized and being prepared. Without preparation, we often wind up spending unnecessary money on meals out or we compromise by eating something fast but not as nutritional as something we could have prepared. Think ahead – the worst feeling to have, in my opinion, is being unprepared!

What are some of your tips and tricks for staying on top of a healthy, plant-based diet? Please share them in the comments below!

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