In honour of Veganuary, Collard Veggie Wraps

For those trying out plant-based eating for Veganuary, here’s a quick and easy whole-food plant-based lunch – no tortilla required! Loaded with fibre and phytonutrients to help prevent disease and promote good health.

The trick for healthy eating is to stock up on a variety of fruits and vegetables. When the urge strikes, you open your fridge and feel virtuous and inspired and have enough ingredients to make colourful and healthy meals and snacks.

1) Wash two large collard green leaves, dry and cut off the thickest part of the stem beneath the leafy part. Lay these flat.
2) Smooth about 1 tbsp hummus on the light green portion of each leaf as the base
3) Next layer a little arugula (or spring mix or chopped lettuce) on each leaf
4) Top with your favourite sliced vegetables. Here I’ve used red cabbage, red and orange grape tomatoes, green onion and sliced cucumber. Other options might be bell pepper strips, mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts or slices of avocado.
5) If you enjoy them, sprinkle some fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or cilantro on top
6) Fold short edges, and roll up the leaves into a wrap. Then cut each roll in half and enjoy!

Note, if you overstuff your collard leaves and can’t roll them, just fold as best you can and eat taco-style…over a plate…with a few napkins handy. They can be messy, but delicious!

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens

From Texas Caviar to Hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas are the star of the show this time of year . It is said that eating these little beauties on New Year’s Day will bring much prosperity for the year ahead and if you add tomatoes, good health too.  Add collard greens (to represent the almighty dollar) and your financial future is set!

As superstitions go, this isn’t a bad one as black-eyed peas and collard greens are both nutrient-dense foods.

One cup of black-eyed peas has: 160 calories, 8.2 g of fibre, 5.2 g of protein and 263 mcg of folate, 53% of your daily required amount. All that fibre acts like a little toothbrush through the colon – most people don’t get enough.

One cup of cooked collard greens has only 49 calories, 5 g of fibre and 4 g of protein. It is extremely high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C, plus a host of other nutrients. Collards are from the Brassica family, related to cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts. These cruciferous veggies have sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates which may reduce cancer risk.

Get all of that goodness inside of you with this spicy Creole-inspired dish. It’s a perfect food any day in January! 

Creole Black-Eyed Peas with Garlicky Collard Greens

A perfect New Year's Day dish, guaranteed to bring you good health and prosperity throughout the year! Black-eyed peas in a spicy tomato broth, served with collard greens lightly sautéed with garlic.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Creole
Keyword: Oil-free, Vegan

Ingredients

  • 2 onions diced
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas rinsed and soaked overnight (8-10 hours)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes fire-roasted preferred, but regular are fine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce optional

For the Collard Greens

  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut into halves
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce

Instructions

  • Heat a 5L/5QT pot to medium-high. Add a little water to the pot and sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients except the liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 1.5 hours or until the peas are soft. At that point add the liquid smoke, starting with 1/4 tsp (as it is pretty potent and can destroy the dish if too much is added). Cook an additional few minutes and serve, hot.

For the Collard Greens

  • Remove and discard stems and centre ribs of collard greens. Cut leaves into 1-inch pieces. 
  • Heat 12" skillet to Medium-High
  • Add 1 tbsp of water (or broth, if using) plus the garlic to the pan, stirring for just a few seconds. Add the chopped collards, cherry tomatoes and remaining water to pan, gently sautéing until greens are tender but not mushy . Sprinkle with coconut aminos or soy sauce to taste. Give a final stir and serve with the black-eyed peas over brown rice.

Notes

 
 

Reversing Diabetes – Holiday Hurdles and Looking Ahead to a fresh New Year

  • Start Date of Whole Foods, Plant Based Diet, -SOS: Nov 17, 2019
  • Fasting Blood Sugar: 9.3 (originally 10.5)
    Blood Pressure 122/83
    Weight: -17 lbs

Hey everyone! I was hoping to do a week-by-week update (I DO have every last detail documented in my trusty bedside notebook) but the holidays were fast approaching and time just ran away. So instead of Week 3 in order — we jump ahead to the holidays and the end of the year.

I am not going to lie – it has been a challenge for me to eat whole-food plant-based salt-free, oil-free, sugar-free (SOS) and alcohol-free for Christmas for the first time. I have celebrated a vegan Christmas before, but it included processed vegan food (like tofurky) which now, no longer fits into my lifestyle. Temptation to eat anything and say “just for the holidays” is extremely high.

While sorting the stocking stuffers, I came face-to-face with Lindor chocolate balls (I’m sure just one won’t hurt). I had three. 

The cheese tray was another temptation. I spent a small fortune on the “good” artisanal vegan cheese, but even that is processed, as are the crackers, albeit whole grain.  

Sparkling wine. 

Cooking for my family didn’t help. As supportive as they are, they would feel 100% deprived if I didn’t roast a turkey or provide the traditional Christmas dinner they grew up with. Holiday meals are extremely emotional. Even though I know eating plant-based is the healthiest way, I can’t force my kids into it – I have to respect their choices and try to lead by example. So there was turkey and creamy mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted veggies sprinkled with parmesan and sweet cranberry sauce, followed by the traditional white chocolate cheesecake. 

In a nutshell, I tried my best, but was not 100 per cent compliant and my glucose levels show it. Before Christmas, I was on a steady (positive!) decline with blood glucose levels, moving from the first all-time high reading of 10.5 down through the 9’s, 8’s and was in the 7’s in the morning and much lower after exercising. Now, I’m back in the 9’s.

What would I do differently the next time?

1. Reframe my thoughts – I am not depriving myself. I am choosing to eat food in its most natural state to maximize my health. This is not drastic. What is drastic is going blind or losing a limb or having to go on dialysis from diabetes complications. Drastic is heart surgery to open clogged arteries, or worse a heart attack or stroke. Eating fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables is a gift and nature’s best medicine. 

2. Prepare more delicious WFPB options that avoid salt, sugar and oil for the “charcuterie board” and for the dinner table. This may takes a bit more planning, but I know that had I more options to select from, I would have chosen the healthier ones. The other part of this is to make healthier versions of the traditional holiday foods. Instead of potatoes mashed with butter and sour cream or buttermilk, make mashed potatoes with potatoes, steamed cauliflower and plant-milk. Use more herbs instead of salt. Take a super healthy option to pot-lucks.

3. Stock up on flavoured sparkling water (eg/ La Croix and others), herbal teas, assorted coffee and tea options to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol. Make interesting mocktails with real flavours from juicer (ginger, lemon, fruits). Throw a couple of raspberries or pomegranate seeds into your sparkling water to make it more festive.

4. Learn to make an amazing “main” like a “Mushroom wellington” such as this one from BOSH, which could eliminate the roast turkey, or at least offer another option:  https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/portobello-mushroom-wellington

4. Dessert – fruit, fruit and more fruit. Figs and dates. Good dark chocolate. A few nuts. 

5. Eat like our great-grandparents did.

I can’t beat myself up – it’s a learning process. The holidays are almost over with the new year and fresh start just over the hill. 

 

Reversing Diabetes – Week 2 – Salad is King

 Fasting Blood Sugar: 8.2 (originally 10.5)
Blood Pressure 122/84
Weight: -2 lbs. (Total -8)

Week 2 and my fasting blood sugar is down 2 points from last week!  Blood pressure is closer to a normal reading and there are a few days when it is even a little lower than normal (104/79; 110/85). Perhaps a happy side effect may be to reduce or even stop my blood pressure medication if this pattern keeps going.

Weight loss has slowed but it has been busy at work with days that I couldn’t get out for a walk, then got home late and was too tired to do anything but make dinner. It doesn’t help that it’s late fall and it gets dark outside by 5 pm and it’s cold. But these are excuses, yes? If this is to be a lifestyle then I have to do whatever it takes to be active every day, even if I just march on the spot while I’m cooking. Anything.

In terms of meals, this week was all about the giant salad. It doesn’t matter whether for lunch or dinner, but imperative at least once a day.  Leafy greens are at the top of the nutritional heap – low in calories but packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Any combination of the following greens work as the base for every salad: curly or lacinato kale, Swiss chard, Boston lettuce, leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, arugula, spring mix, baby spinach, watercress or microgreens plus parsley or cilantro or other fresh herbs. My fridge is bursting with greens.

To this base, I add the rainbow with as many colourful additions as possible in creative variations from day to day: avocado, cherry tomatoes, celery, chopped red cabbage, cucumber, thinly-sliced Brussels sprouts, red, green and yellow bell peppers, carrots, beets (grated or roasted), thin jalapeno slices, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, red or green onions, snow peas, sugar snap peas, kohlrabi, radishes.

While fruit in salad is a personal preference, I love it and mix things up by adding orange or mandarin segments, diced mango, diced apple, diced pears, kiwi, blueberries, strawberries or pomegranate arils. 

If I add fruit, I’ll also add nuts (walnuts or almonds usually), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds.

Dressings are tricky when not using oil. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of seasoned vinegars, lime and lemon juice combinations and creamy dressings made with blended soaked cashews or tahini. Recipes to come! 

 

Reversing Diabetes – Week 1 – Focus on Breakfast

Fasting Blood Sugar: 10.2 (originally 10.5)
Blood Pressure 126/92
Weight: -6 lbs. (Total -6)

This first week has been more of an orientation than anything else. I am not following any one particular program, but crafting my own based on guidelines suggested by the plant-based medical advocates mentioned in my last post.  The underlying tenet is that I am eating a low fat, high-carb diet that is mostly fruits and vegetables, raw and cooked, some whole grains, plus a handful of nuts and seeds every day.  I am not counting calories and while aiming for selections with a lower glycemic-load, I am not excluding starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn or squash. I am avoiding all meat, dairy, processed food and oil. 

So far, so good — A week in, my blood sugar tests fractionally better.  At least it’s going down. Blood pressure is also marginally better than usual for me. The highlight is the six-pound weight loss this week.

So what does breakfast look like?

  • Steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts
  • Bowl of mixed berries and a banana
  • Whole grain toast with avocado, cucumber and tomato slices
  • Green smoothies

Hail to the Green Smoothie as this has quickly become my go-to breakfast, especially when I’m rushing. It’s faster than juicing,  nutritious, easy to throw together and I can drink it in the car.  Because the whole food is blended, the fibre remains intact and for diabetics, fibre — particularly soluble fibre — slows the absorption of sugar and helps improve blood sugar levels. 

There are four main steps when layering up the ingredients into the high-speed blender, from bottom to top:

  1. Liquids (eg: unsweetened plant milk, coconut water, filtered water)
  2. Fresh Solids (eg: banana, kiwi, spinach, chard, kale)
  3. Frozen Layer: (eg: frozen berries, peaches, pineapple, mango)
  4. Super Food additions: (eg: ground flax seed, hemp seed, chia, moringa or amla powder, spirulina)

If I wake up with no appetite,  I just have water with lemon, then nothing until lunch. I’m trying to only eat when I’m hungry, and only until I’m satiated, not stuffed.

Finally, exercise — I have started walking every day and if I can’t walk, I jump on my Bellicon rebounder and try to close the three movement rings on my Apple watch. So far, I’ve been most successful on weekends when I have time to walk further or be more active throughout the day. Goal for next week: try to move more at work.

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes without drugs

The results are in.  As suspected, my  November 17, 2019 blood test results thrust me into diabetes range. My fasting glucose measured 10.8 (anything greater than 7.0 mmol/L after an 8-hour fast can be used as a provisional diagnosis of diabetes mellitus). My Hemoglobin A1C level was 9.2 (anything greater than 6.5 indicates diabetes).

Even though I knew the results would be higher than normal, I was hopeful that I’d remain “pre-diabetic”.  Now, there it was in black-and-white and I was gripped with the fear of possible complications: heart attack, kidney disease, dialysis, blindness, amputated limbs… How did this happen? More importantly, how to fix it?

A huge fan of health-and-lifestyle documentaries and literature, I have come to know those who are prominently involved in promoting nutrition as medicine: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease). Dr. Colin Campbell (The China Study). Dr. Dean Ornish (Program for Reversing Heart Disease). Dr. Neil Barnard (Program for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs). Dr. Joel Fuhrman (Eat to Live; The End of Diabetes) and Dr. Michael Greger (NutritionFacts.org).  There’s also Robby Barbaro and Cyrus Khambatta co-founders of the Mastering Diabetes program. ALL of these pioneers advocate whole-food plant-based nutrition for optimal health.

The information they collectively provide points to study after study after study: a low-fat whole-food plant-based diet may prevent and even reverse certain health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. I know in my own heart that I have to try it.  The last thing I want is more medication – starting with the traditional metformin – as I am already taking an anti-coagulant and rate drug for atrial fibrillation, plus a heart pressure pill. My doctor has agreed to let me try nutrition and lifestyle changes first. I must monitor my blood glucose with a glucose meter at home. If the numbers rise consistently, I will have to take the drug. Otherwise, I will check in with another blood test in three months.

The plan, then, is to eat a low-fat, whole-food plant based diet. This means:

  • No animal products including eggs and dairy
  • No processed foods, even if they are vegan
  • No added sugar, salt or oil
  • No alcohol, fruit juice or caffeine

I think I can do all of these things except the caffeine. One cup should be OK. 

I also need to add exercise to my sedentary day, where it’s not impossible to sit 8 to 10 hours at my desk job.  My goal is a minimum of one hour of exercise every day, even if the best I can do is a brisk walk.

While it all may sound a bit daunting, I’m very motivated here at the start. Is this sustainable over time? Will this work at all? I will be tracking my efforts here on the blog.

 

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes?

I have a requisition in my hand for a blood test to see whether I have developed Type II diabetes. I’m pretty sure it will be positive. I was teetering very closely on the pre-diabetes/diabetes borderline just as I started a plant-based lifestyle a few years back. The numbers went down. I lost weight. Then I started planning a trip to the other side of the world, to see my daughter in New Zealand. I wanted to be able to eat everything and not limit myself.  Adventurous foodie won over the sick foodie. Unfortunately, I never went back to fully plant-based when I came home. I just continued to gain weight and lose energy and then gained even more weight. 

I am obese now.  Sluggish. Tired. Red-faced. Breathless. I look like I’m expecting twins and have no muscles, anywhere–classic signs of insulin resistance.  I’m feeling cramps in my legs at night. I can never close the rings on my iWatch. My toes are numb. My vision seems to blur at times, especially in the morning. 

I know I need to recommit to whole-food plant-based eating.  Will that be enough to reverse Type 2 Diabetes? 

Tepache Time

Fermenting has intrigued me since childhood. Every fall, my parents used to shred countless heads of cabbage, by hand, enough to fill a rain barrel. They salted it, packed it in and kept it in the cold cellar. We had fresh sauerkraut “on demand” for the next year. It was great fun watching my nephews’ reactions as their grandpa removed the top layer of ferment “scum”  (“EWWWW!!!”) to reach the fresh sauerkraut below.  I make sauerkraut exactly the same way today, except in far smaller quantities. 

Now that we know how beneficial fermented foods are for gut health, I am experimenting with fermenting all sorts of other foods. 

The newest and most exciting thing I have stumbled upon is tepache (teh-PAH-chay) and the funny thing is, it’s not that new.  Tepache dates back to Pre-Columbian Mexico as a popular drink among the Nahua people. Originally, corn was the base of tepache but the contemporary recipe (tepache de piña) uses pineapple rind and core to make this drink. It’s totally fine to just cut up the whole pineapple as well, which is what I did in the batch pictured below.  In fact, there are countless variations on how to  make tepache – rules and recipes vary and that’s what makes it so fun experimenting.

HOW TO:

  • 1 whole ripe fresh pineapple, rinsed clean (organic is best if possible)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 to 6 cloves
  • 1 thumb ginger (optional)
  • 1 large cone of  Piloncillo ( Piloncillo, named “pylon” for its conical shape, is a raw form of pure cane sugar that is used in Mexican cooking. Alternatively, use 1 cup of brown sugar, rapadura, panela, jaggery or any variation of raw cane sugar).
  • ​16 cups of filtered water, or enough to cover the pineapple pieces

Cut off the crown and base of the pineapple and compost. Cut the rest up into slices and then triangles. Put the cut pieces of pineapple with rind into a 1-gallon glass jar or  container.

Add the sugar and spices and enough filtered water to cover.

Muddle, or stir it well with a wooden spoon.

Cover the glass container with cheesecloth or small dishtowel, holding it firm with an elastic.

Place on counter at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.

The timing of the fermentation depends on temperature and can take anywhere from 2 days in a warmer climate to a week or more to get to the bubbly refreshing drink stage. If left longer, it becomes an alcoholic beverage and if left longer still, pineapple vinegar.

I begin sampling once I see a thick layer of white foam on the top. The foam means it’s alive and fermenting. I sample by moving a bit of the foamy stuff with my spoon and testing the brew below.

It should taste light, bubbly and not too sweet. There may be a bit of a musty smell similar to an overripe pineapple,  but it should not be repulsive. I find it a bit smoother and tastier than kombucha.

Aiming for the “refreshing beverage” stage rather than hooch or vinegar, I strained this batch into jars after five days on the counter. A second ferment is possible – meaning once it is strained in the jars, you let it sit another day or two to get more bubbly. It’s important to “burp” the jars at least once a day to avoid explosions from the build-up of carbon dioxide. I used one mason jar and one jar with a clip top (pictured).

Once it tastes as you like it, it should be refrigerated, where it  keeps fermenting, but at a much slower pace.

Tepache tastes best very cold or over ice.

I’m sure it would also taste great in cocktails such as a piña colada.

¡Salud!

 

A is for autumn, apples and the air fryer

Not long ago my gas range went kaput and the budget being what it is, I decided to not replace it for a while. The barbecue carried me through the summer, along with an older toaster oven (which I have to watch carefully as it routinely sets off the smoke alarm) .  After hearing so many great things about them, I decided to try an air fryer. Crispy french fries with just a teaspoon of oil, or even with none? What’s not to love? 

I took the plunge with a Philips VIVA air fryer (Model HD9220C) from Costco that came with a bonus grill pan. I think they’re discontinuing this line which is why it was on sale, but it had great reviews. 

First try – fries of course. Fantastic. Lightly browned. More like baked than truly fried, but I prefer them this way rather than greasy. I’m sure if one added a bit of oil, they’d be crispier. The ones pictured here were air fried with NO oil at all. Really, the air fryer is just a tiny convection oven that is more energy-friendly and possibly quicker too. 

I have been having great fun experimenting with things to air fry. My last effort was breaded steamed cauliflower which came out very well. 

It’s fall now and apple season. As the weather cools and the leaves turn, bring on the comfort food and those wonderful smells: apples, nutmeg, cinnamon…crisps and cobblers. 

I thought I’d experiment with apples in the Air Fryer. First try apple chips – I just sliced up an apple, tossed with juice of half a small lemon, a tbsp of  coconut sugar and a tsp of cinnamon. Air fried at 200 C for 10 minutes. Tossed the slices and air fried 10 minutes more. These are really delicious – sort of a cross between a dehydrated apple slice and a baked apple. Would be lovely topped with a scoop of ice cream/ice dream. 

So why not a whole baked apple? 

 

WHAT I DID:

I cored two Mutsu apples but certainly select your favourite.

In a separate bowl I mixed 

2 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp coconut sugar (brown sugar would work as well)
Sprinkle of chopped walnuts
Sprinkle of craisins (or raisins)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
A few scrapes of fresh nutmeg or a scant sprinkle
A scant sprinkle of salt
Approx 1 tbsp Earth Balance vegan spread (or coconut oil)

Mix this blend together until the oats seem moist and want to clump and stuff the two cored apples. Place in Air Fryer at 175 for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on type of apple. It should be fork tender but still keep its shape. You can open the drawer and check with no consequences! The result is a tender, delicious baked apple with a crunchy, sweet topping. 

Happy Autumn and enjoy those freshly-picked apples!  

 

 

Juicing 101

I didn’t really understand the benefits of drinking fresh-pressed juice until I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. In this documentary, Australian Joe Cross chronicles his journey to regain health with a drastic 60-day juice fast. As he juices his way across America drinking his signature “Mean Green” (recipe below) Joe loses nearly a hundred pounds and clears up a chronic, debilitating skin condition.  

Inspired, I wanted to try this. I could certainly benefit from some weight loss and re-setting my taste buds away from junk food and towards healthier whole foods seemed like a win-win.  First, I  loaded up my shopping cart with veggies – heaps of greens, mostly organic. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list every year of the best and worst foods in terms of pesticide residue. When you’re ingesting huge quantities of produce for juicing, organic is preferable if only for the most contaminated dirty dozen. In 2018, these are strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and bell peppers. The clean 15  are the least contaminated, so if you have to skip organic due to cost or lack of availability, start with these.

 On my first try, it took me over an hour to wash, peel, and chop enough veggies to make a day’s worth of fresh juice.  Another 15 minutes was spent juicing, then 10 more minutes scrubbing the juicer Once the pulp dries in the machine, it can become very difficult to remove. So yes, time is involved – but if you’re not cooking, you may have a bit of time to spare. Some find the taste of freshly-pressed green juice refreshing; others liken it to drinking freshly-mown grass and gag and sputter as they choke it down.  I prefer it immediately out of the juicer, when the nutrients and enzymes are optimal. Fresh is not always possible if you’re juicing ahead or taking it to work, in which case it’s completely fine to store it in glass containers in the fridge for up to 72 hours. Some people freeze it – I never have.   

Types of Juicers

Centrifugal JuicersUsing centrifugal force, these juicers spin the pulp at high speeds to extract the juice. They can be loud and are not great at juicing leafy vegetables, such as spinach or kale, sprouts or wheatgrass.

  • Most common, least expensive juicers found on shelves
  • Fast prep and easy to use
  • May be more difficult to clean
  • Yield less juice
  • Reduced juice quality as fast-spinning blades produce heat that destroys beneficial enzymes and oxidizes nutrients

 

Masticating JuicersThese are known as the “cold-press” juicers. Produce goes down a tube where it is squeezed and crushed at a slower speed with the juice exiting the bottom of the tube.

  • Well-suited to juicing leafy greens, grasses, sprouts and herbs
  • Higher juice yield
  • Lower speeds means less heat is generated, preserving more nutrients and enzymes ; juice stays fresher longer
  • Less noisy / Higher initial cost

I started with a Breville centrifugal juicer. As I got more serious about juicing, especially greens, I purchased an Omega masticating juicer (the Omega 8006 pictured here) which I continue to use daily. 

Benefits of Juicing vs Smoothies

Juicing extracts the liquid and nutrients from produce leaving behind the indigestible fibre. The digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the food and nutrients become more readily available in much larger quantities than eating the produce whole.  Many healing/detox programs offer fresh green juices for just that reason – they are extremely nourishing and help to restore the body at a cellular level.

Smoothies use the whole fruit or vegetable, with all of their natural fibre. Made in a blender or NutriBullet, the process breaks the fibres down to make them easier to digest allowing for a slow, even release of nutrients into the blood stream and avoiding blood-sugar spikes.  More filling and faster to make, smoothies generally have a thicker, creamier texture than juices. Ounce-per-ounce, they contain fewer servings of fruit and/or vegetables than fresh-pressed juice.

The first three days of juicing were hell. I felt feverish, as if I was getting the flu. My head was pounding. My muscles hurt. This is what detoxing feels like when you abruptly cut off sugar and caffeine . By Day 4, however, I felt somewhat better and then WHAM, I felt amazing! I would get crazy surges of energy — I caught myself bouncing up and down by the photocopier at work one day. I constantly felt like moving and walking and going outside! It was remarkable.

I discovered that I liked to have a “shot” to start things off every morning and I continue to do these now. Wheatgrass, while beneficial, makes me feel queasy so my preference is lemon and ginger. Ginger shots (my Lemon Zingers), are a great eye-opener with a slow warming burn not unlike a shot of whisky.  

Sometimes during the fast, I did feel bloated from all of the juice, but never did I feel as if I was starving. I stuck to the juicing schedule that Joe Cross suggests which is about 16-20 ounces of juice, 4 to 6 times per day, supplemented with herbal tea and pure coconut water. It’s also suggested that the ratio of produce in the juice should be 80% vegetables to 20% fruits — to keep the sugar down. 

At the end of 30 days, my stomach was making extremely loud gurgling sounds, reminding me that it wanted something with a little more substance to digest.  I was ready to eat again.  People had noticed my weight loss – it amounted to 28 pounds in a month. My blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels had all dropped. My doctor told me that whatever I was doing was working terrifically well. Plus I had more energy than ever. I lost my taste for sweets and junk – at least for a while – and the first solid food I wanted to eat was a raw green spring roll.

Although some can and do fast on juice for long periods with excellent results, I would never advocate exclusively juicing for a very long term. A 30 or 60-day juice fast is a pretty drastic measure and probably long enough for even the most hard-core juicer. It does reset your mind and body as one would reboot a glitchy computer. The sense of well-being is invigorating and will carry you towards a healthier path for some time. If you do start to slip back into old patterns, a short juice fast of a few days serves as quick reboot to get back on track.  Ultimately, however, you don’t need to “fast” at all – just include fresh-pressed juice as part of your lifestyle. The super-boost of easily-absorbed nutrition always feels fantastic. I now try to include one a day on most days. Nature’s multi-vitamin.

Juicing Tip

In order to get the widest variety of nutrients, it’s important to drink the rainbow. Green juices. Red juices. Orange juices. Purple. My tip for better flavours when making up recipes is to stick with the same colour families for each batch of juice. Do not mix green produce with orange produce. It will turn brown. It will not be appetizing, no matter the taste.

Juice On!