Day 2: the Juicening

I had a variety of expectations going into this “drink your veggies” experiment. On waking up after day 1 (really, day .5 because I started this at around 2 pm Saturday), I’m surprised because I slept the same amount/sleep schedule as normal, and I am wide awake. Not ‘toothpicks propping open my eyelids’ or ‘wired on a large coffee’ awake, but ‘I actually got up when my alarm went off instead of sleeping through it for half an hour’ awake. I’m limiting myself to 1 cup of coffee (I measured it!) a day to keep any caffeine withdraw headaches away, but I think I could have done without the coffee this morning. I can’t remember a time in the last several years I could have said that. I thought I would wake up and say, “Screw this. I need to be awake to go to work.” But here I am, and I was in lab at 8 am.

With that said, the one down side I’m having also surprised me. I thought without eating fat or dairy last night, I would feel less bloated, but this isn’t the case. My stomach felt a bit tender this morning, but it’s not abnormal for me to feel nauseous in the morning. I thought I wouldn’t be bloated, but I didn’t find that to be the case, at least when I woke up. With that said, maybe allowing more pulp in the juice is causing the bloating. I plan to remedy this by making a citrus based juice later. I think the high alkali content of the green juice might be bothering my stomach.

Breakfast. Mmmmm.

Anyway, I drank my green juice for breakfast this morning. I wasn’t clear on what I was drinking, so I’m going to break down a little what I’ve done so far. From what I can tell, these juice fasts are built around the green juice. I’m starting to understand why: you’re drinking liquid spinach and kale. I drank 2 very pulpy green juices and 1 coffee mug of cashew/banana juice last night. I blended all my ingredients, so they’re probably WAY more chunky/pulpy than their counterparts you would get from juicing programs. I made 3 bottles of green juice and used 2 recipes of cashew juice to make 3 servings. I left the cashew mix less strained, but I did a fair job straining the green pulp. I put it into a pasta strainer and pressed it down. Then, I added more water to the pulp and let it sit over night, which is how I got 1 grande iced coffee serving for breakfast. (See: the handy plastic cup I didn’t throw away.)

Green juice:
– 1 large handful of kale
– 1 large handful of spinach
– 1 average sized kiwi, peeled
– 1-2 Granny Smith apples, whole
*The recipe I took this from says to add 1 banana. I didn’t do that on the first day, but maybe I’ll try the green juice with a banana.

Banana-Cashew Milk
For 1 bottle:
– 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours
– 1 banana
– 1 cup of water
– a pinch each of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg
(I used WAY more water to dilute 2 recipes of this to 3 servings. I drank one serving last night, but I’m going to try and make the remaining two servings last as lunches today and tomorrow. We’ll see.)

Pineapple-Cucumber Juice:
-1 Pineapple
-1 seedless cucumber
*You could add apples and cut back on the pine apple. This one was hard to strain, and I made only 1.5 bottles from this ‘double’ recipe.

Grapefruit-apple-coconut Mint Juice:
-1 grapefruit
-1 red apple
-1/2 container coconut water (natural, unsweetened)
-Sprigs of mint
(I peeled the grapefruit and chopped up the apple, and blended it all together. This juice was to replace the lemonade, and it strained really well. The mint might make your stomach feel better. I a full bottle plus a bit more out of this recipe.)

Here are pictures of ingredients and how I strained them and filtered them. That said, I would embrace the pulpiness of these drinks. I went to Whole Foods, trying to find a packet of the cleanse drinks sold nationally, but they didn’t have the bottled drink versions. I really want to find a comparison ‘green juice’ to see how my blended version stacks up. From what I can tell, the green juice is what is making the difference for me.

Recipe for the pineapple-cucumber drink. I didn’t end up using the apples.

Cucumber and pineapple straining. It’s actually a very delicious juice, but it was the hardest to strain.

1 plastic cup of cucumber/pineapple for dinner and a bottle for work tomorrow!

The apples and grapefruit in the blender beside the coconut juice.

My final product of grapefruit/apple/mint/coconut juice. It’s very good, and the citrus balances out the more bitter juices.

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Life experiments: Juice cleanses

I’m taking an exciting vacation in ten days. I’ve been saving money and doing work, putting the trip as far back in my mind as possible so I don’t get distracted. I’m not the type of person to check out until I’m out the door and hoping a plane. This is why, when I went shopping yesterday, I had one of those moments where, I realized for me, I had let myself go.

It started with my hair. I looked in the mirror and realized my hair was two colors. Two freaking colors. I had the tacky bottle dye job (saving money) and the root re growth to show how little I’ve cared for…oh, the last six months. To top it off, I was bloated and decided to wear skinny jeans out. And I didn’t wear make up because I care a lot less about putting make up on when I spend my entire day alone and working with rodents. This is just how it works, people.

“Letting myself go” is a relative term, and a phrase I kind of hate, even as I realize what it means. Basically, to cut down stress, I take an approach to let the little things (laundry, cleaning, putting on make up) slide unless the occasion is important. Think ‘job interview’ or ‘giving a presentation.’ There should be room in life to not care about trivial things. We should give ourselves the freedom to go after goals without the nagging voice of “Do the laundry! Have the perfect house! Paint your nails!” ringing in our heads. I have things I want to do that are more important than devoting a chunk of time and money to chasing this high-maintenance version of femininity. For example, read 18 things to consider before moving in with your boyfriend, and please, for the love of all the things, let me know if you’ve known ANYONE who hangs up their flip flops. In addition, if you have ever made a cut bow in your toilet paper or decorated your freaking trash can with bows, let me know so I can say there are people in the world who’ve actually done those things. I do not believe these type of people exist, and if they do, I’m certainly not friends with any of them. I hate wasting time, but that said, I have a baseline of femininity, and I express it in some culturally typical ways.

That said, I had the ‘crap, I fell below my own personal level of femininity’ moment standing in a Macy’s dressing room. I called the hair salon on the bus ride home and made an appointment. My hair is a single color. Sometimes, life is that easy. I lucked out and got a woman who had a lisp, so she didn’t try to make idle chatter with me. I went to a very good stylist, but she talked way too much. Idle chatter bores me, and why are you asking me about super personal things? Just because you’re touching my hair doesn’t mean you’ve become my magical confidant.

I come home from the salon, and the second issue smacks me in the face: I’m bloated and feel terrible. This is different from the hair and femininity issue, but they’re all tied up in that knot of self-image problems. I looked up this article about DIY juice cleanses, which I read and made fun of a few months ago. I know what it means to cut water weight. I know how much water weight I can cut in a two day period if I absolutely need to hit a number on a scale. That said, ‘quick’ weight loss is just that: water weight and maybe a pound of real weight. The safest amount of REAL weight you can lose in a week is around 2 pounds while being completely functional. Even then, your body wants to sit at a specific weight, and it’s best not to fight nature. Eat veggies, get protein, drink water, and you land where you land weight wise. That said, when your diet (my diet…) goes to shit, you feel it. And man, I am feeling it. For me, it’s that I’ve started bad snacking habits. They crept in at work, and eating more sugar just causes me to crave more sugar. Couple this with a general increase in my cravings for dairy, and it’s the perfect storm of bad eating.

And this is how I read an article about juicing five times in a row before deciding that I was going to try it. Granted, I’m going to try the juice part for about 2-3 days. I’m going to try a slew of different recipes, but that’s the goal: lots of raw veggies and a bunch of water to reset my palate. Because when I’m too lazy to cook chard, something is wrong. When I let other foods squeeze out veggies in my food budget, I need to reset the baseline because it’s skewed.

The rough idea is to take the do-it-myself approach. (Money. Saving money is awesome.) I spent my week grocery budget on raw product and a box of unsalted cashews. No cheeses, no pasta, nothing else. Just fruit and veggies. I made the ‘green juice’, which seems to be the foundation of every juice cleanse that exists. And…well, kale has a really powerful after taste, even when it’s mixed with kiwis and granny smith apples. I also made the banana-cashew-lots of water-cinnamon drink to take to work for lunch because I’m going to need some substance at work. I played “will it blend?” with a variety of veggies, and I’m going to tackle more recipes tomorrow.

I have vowed to not eat anything more solid than the juice pulp for two days. The only exception is coffee, and even then, I need to drink only a cup to prevent headaches. Also, I will not do the master cleanse. If I want lemon juice, I’m gong to squeeze a lemon, add agave nectar, and dilute it with water. Why, why or freaking why, you would think ‘hey, I know what this lemonade needs! Cayenne pepper!’ I know what the intended affect is, but your liver and kidneys are pros at filtering toxins from your body. Cleansing, in the most literal sense, isn’t eliminating any magical toxins your liver and kidneys didn’t get to first.

My goal is to reset my palate quickly. I don’t own a scale. I don’t care how much weight I gain or lose. I just need to feel better, and a fair amount of that comes from a slippery-slope cravings slide. Once again, cravings are a personal thing. What I consider ‘normal cravings’ isn’t universal, but you can reset your cravings. The sugar in the fruit part of the drinks should work well enough to put a cap on the sugar cravings. After I finish the initial pulp n’ water days, I want to make a real focus on eating raw food. This isn’t because I believe cooking magically makes food unhealthy; it doesn’t, and in many instances, cooking allows you to absorb more nutrients from veggies. Basically, I want to stop being lazy with how I’ve been eating. There’s no magical bullet, I’m well aware, but the goal of feeling ‘less crappy’ is one I’m going to prioritize this week.