Saturday, June 23, 2012


It's officially summer, and if you're going to juice this is the best season to do it!

I have pretty strong feelings against juicing actually, but for some reason have been craving a super green, fresh juice and had to make it happen today.  Considering the "buzz" around juicing and its health benefits, I thought I should give my input.

It's Nutritious.
Yes, juicing your vegetables involved removing all the juice (sugar), as well as the water soluble vitamins & minerals into the concentrated juice, which is where it gets it's "super powers"!  Juicing eliminates the fiber from the fruits and vegetables you juice thus increasing it's ability to be absorbed and utilized in your system.

It's Wasteful.
Because you are eliminating the fiber you end up with a lot of leftover mushy unusable produce once you've juiced out to water, vitamins, minerals, and sugar.  This kills me!  I spend all this time getting me veggies washed, chopped, and juiced, to be left with a measly little jar of juice.  I would rather eat the veggies!

You Must Invest.
Juicing is extremely wasteful if you have a crappy juicer.  The better ones will have less leftover produce when you're done, they can be pretty pricey.  I got mine at Costco for $150 or so, it's a Juiceman, and I think relatively middle of the road when it comes to juicers.  

You MUST use Organic.
It completely defeats the purpose if you use non-organic produce to do your juicing.  The toxins used to grow your non-organic foods will end up extremely concentrated in your juice.  You don't want that!  Even organic produce needs to be washed well before juicing.  I use grapefruit seed extract to wash all my produce, it's a natural antimicrobial, and thus kills any bacteria that may be present on your food. 

Juicing Greens is just Sad!
Yes, it's unfortunate that some organic farmer spent the growing season caring for your beautifully grown spinach, and kale, and cabbage, only for you to squeeze out 2oz of juice and throw the rest away...sad!  However, if you are going to juice you gotta have greens in there!  In my experience, spinach juices the best, kale is the worst (just eat it), and cabbage is actually so-so.  I typically juice 1-2x/year (literally) and always use fresh spinach.

It's a Hassle.
My favorite juice recipe involves a special trip to the store as it's not stuff I just happen to have in my fridge.  So, after I've made my special trip to the store to get my ingredients (30 minutes), I unload and get my big salad spinner out to start washing the spinach.  Soak the spinach in grapefruit seed extract and water, drain, and spin dry (5 minutes).  Set up another bowl of grapefruit seed extract and water to wash my cucumber, carrots, celery, parsley, lemon, and apple (5 minutes).  Peel carrots and ginger, slice off most of lemon peel (a few more minutes).  Get the juicer out, plug in, set up and we're ready to juice!!  Start with the greens, and then the order doesn't matter from there.  Once everything has gone through, you have about 10 minutes of clean up to do.  Dump all wasted fiber in the trash unless you trust your disposal (I don't!).  Wash all pieces of the juicer well (there are like 5 pieces that need to be disinfected and thoroughly cleaned).  You can get them in the dishwasher if you prefer.  That's like 50 minutes for a 20oz jar of juice that needs to be consumed within 2 days.  You decide if it's worth it!

All things considered it is a yummy, it tastes delicious and if you have a juicer you might as well break it out every once in a while!  So, when you do, this is my favorite recipe :)

1 bunch fresh spinach
1 cucumber
2 in of ginger
1 lemon
1/2 an apple
3-4 celery sticks
2-3 carrots
1 bunch parsley

This is a great "detox" recipe, as the ginger, lemon, and parsley have anti-inflammatory and digestive health properties.  The apple is really there fore flavor, you don't even need it.  Celery is a filler for me, not necessarily a nutrient dense choice, but it provides juice!  Spinach is packed with vitamin C, phytonutrients, and calcium.  And the carrots are great sources of carotenoids (precursors to vitamin A).

I always prefer and suggest that you EAT your food.  But sometimes juicing can be a special treat :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

SUGAR...can't live with it, can't live without it...or can we?

It is no secret that consuming excessive amounts of sugar is "bad" for you, but unfortunately we still see diseases developing from sugar overdoses even when the source is "healthy".  

Here's what I mean.  I see it all too often, the health conscious,  regular exerciser, "I-eat-everything-from-Whole-Foods" type, who starts their day with a bowl of granola, yogurt, and some type of fruit.  This is the quintessential "healthy breakfast".  However, when we break this down you are looking at upwards of 50-60g of added sugar in one sitting!  Now you can do better on your granola, yogurt, and fruit choices and bring this down to 30g of sugar, but that is still outrageous.  RDA of sugar (which I think is totally ridiculous by the way; you don't "need" added sugar EVER to come into your diet...anyway), is 50g/day.  We're talking honey, agave, cane sugar, brown rice syrup, malt barley, corn syrup, raw sugar, etc, etc.  I would even throw fruit in there, but I don't think that's "counted" by the FDA in this allowance.  If you eat anything, and I mean anything that came from a box, can, wrapper, jar, or other container it most likely has a sugar content.  Go ahead look at your ingredients list, and see what form of sugar gets into your mouth every time you eat.  And we're talking "healthy" foods here...Kind Bars (10g sugar), Justin's Nut butters (3-7g sugar), Brown rice cereal (1-16g sugar), granola (8-25g sugar), regular yogurt (16-28g sugar), plain Greek yogurt (7g sugar), chai tea (8-16g sugar), and the list goes on...

My point is this, we have spent the past 50-60 years living in a fat-phobic nation.  Avoiding fats at all costs, why...because dietary fats, make you fat right?!  Wrong!  Anything in excess will make you fat, but if you have a healthy balanced diet, eating an avocado, egg yolk, olive oil, butter, whole fat milk, or even steak is not going to make you fat.  Unfortunately, it's not that simple.  So what will make you fat...high sugar, replacement foods that your body has no idea how to process.  

When you stump your metabolism by feeding it a "diet food" (you know what they are), or a hydrogenated oil, or some crappy protein bar you are slowing down your metabolism and causing more damage than good.  This lead to our belief that real sugar is better than HFCS, and off we go with the organic agave, raw honey, organic brown rice syrup, or "made with real sugar"-products.  Congrats, you are now eating foods your body recognizes, however like the American lifestyle we just can't get enough of a good thing can we!  Over consuming sugar may be the most detrimental thing we could do when it comes to our health.  Sugar consumption is related to many obvious diseases we've all heard about; mainly diabetes, and obesity.  But the diseases that are typically associated with healthy dietary fat (i.e. you do not have high cholesterol because you eat an egg everyday...that's ridiculous!), are in fact entirely associated with dietary sugar.  For example: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and CVD are not a result of excess dietary fats, they're a result of excess dietary sugars.  Obesity, CVD, stroke, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have all risen dramatically since we cut down on fats and increased our carbohydrates.  

Now, since I preach this stuff all the time I thought it'd be a good experiment to count my daily grams of added sugar in a typical day.  Everyone can make excuses for their "typical day": we were out to lunch that day, we went to a movie, we were out of town, everyone else was having it...etc, etc.  I could use the same excuses...we were out of town, I'm pregnant...whatever!  I tried not to change my food intake just because I was counting sugar grams, just did everything as I normally would.  This was a weekend day, and Rob had a race, so we were outside most of the day, thus snacks were needed.  I only counted added sugar and fruit (not any starch or fiber- which make up the other parts of carbohydrates).  Here's what happened:
8g in my Chai
8g in my brown rice cereal

Snacks throughout the day:
15g in 2 of my muffins (totally guessing)
7g in serving of Justin's chocolate almond butter
10g in Kind bar 
5g in 3 cherries (estimate)
2g in BBQ chips

No sugar :)

No sugar :)

10g in dark chocolate (gotta have my chocolate!)

And the grand total is....65g of added sugar in one day of a relatively clean healthy diet.  That's 16tsp of sugar!  That's incredible, I was shocked.  Imagine how much worse it could be?!  I would challenge you to do this experiment on your diet, and see where you come in.  Bringing awareness to your diet (one nutrient at a time) is the first step towards a more refined healthier diet.  Once you do it, and you find that one food or one item that has too much sugar (for me it was my Chai, just something I didn't need, and easy to cut out), you won't have it anymore; and whether it's cutting out 8g or 15g it's something, it's progress in the right direction!