Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pickin' My Greens to Juice

Morning Juice Ingredients
Do you recognize the greens I'm getting ready to juice? What value do kale, dandelion greens and beet tops supply me, when added to my juicing staples of carrot, apple, ginger and garlic?
I found dandelion greens at our local health food market, but as my husband told me, "You can go pick your own in the coming warmer months." I think I will—listen to this: 
According to LeafLady the health benefits  of dandelion are nothing short of miraculous. In fact, Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) means "Official Remedy for Disorders."
Taken as part of your daily diet it can:  
". . . prevent or cure liver diseases . . . purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastro-intestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function . . . prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you."
Well, I know that any leafy green is going to be good for me, but in one important study, dandelions ranked in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value. They are rich in beta-carotene, high in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, vitamin C, micronutrients like cpoper, zinc and boron, and are a good source of protein along with Vitamin D. No wonder it's so good for us!

 Kale is getting a lot of attention!
I see kale now in all the local grocery stores, and it's very pretty too.
According to Dr. Mercola:
  • Kale eases lung congestion and is beneficial to the stomach, liver and immune system
  • It contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from macular degeneration
  • It also contains indole-3-carbinol, which may protect against colon cancer
  • Kale is an excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and chlorophyll
 And what about beet greens? 

Besides adding a gorgeous dark red hue to your juice:
  • Beet greens contain notable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus
  • They also contain vitamins A, B-complex and C
I don't know how those with debilitating disease, having to drink fresh juice all day long can do it, but I'm making it a priority to make sure I get a healthy green juice at least once a day. I've also experimented a bit. I squeezed oranges and juiced my greens and added them together. Yum! The greens can taste kind of bitter or "green," but added to the orange, or apple, the taste is not noticeable.
I also have some healthy organic green powders that I add to smoothies or mix in juice, but I feel the real thing is most likely best. My smoothies also contain greens like kale, spinach or bok choy.

My juice is ready now—

Bottoms up! Here's to your health!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Un-Healthy Holiday Update

Me with Douglas on Christmas Day

I blew it the past few months. With eating mostly raw, that is. I've felt emotional upheavals in my life (nothing too drastic and some of it actually good) and it shows in my eating habits. Sometimes I just don't choose the healthiest way and decide to treat myself or I might be depressed about something bothering me, so I look to food for a lift—but there's a price to pay. Emotional eating is a bad thing and something I want to conquer.

Well, it is a new year, 2012 and I'm aspiring to do better, eat better, and be better! 
Here's my un-healthy update:

Douglas is only one of my pet penguins, a special gift (from my husband) who sat facing me over dinner at Olive Garden one night last year. This Christmas he joined us in a remake of O.G.'s Chicken Giardino, one of my favorite cooked dishes they no longer serve there. I made a vegetarian version with lots of veggies, but since I had several meat-loving guests I did make meatballs and sausage/pineapple skewers on the side. Did I really buy sausage? OMG, that is akin to killing-by-ingestion, isn't it? Even though I don't eat it, that same day I made a resolution never to buy or cook sausage again. I also made a traditional family recipe—sour cream rolls—delicious! And yes, we had a big raw salad. For dessert I made Raw Chocolate Macadamia Fudge made with cashews, and a not-so-healthy Berry Trifle.
A Not-raw Trifle Indulgence for the Holidays.

But, for years I've had this bargain book—Gifts In a Jar, Holiday Fun—and the creative me was itching to fill some of those mason jars I bought with some healthy-ish mixes (nice try Kathy). I searched for online recipes, found nothing in the "raw" department, but ended up with some interesting pancake, cookie, bar, & dried fruit and nut Mixes-In-A-Jar to give as gifts. I used the best ingredients I could find including raw chocolate powder, healthy nuts, sucanat and organic sugar, and such. My son, Benjamin, loved the Blueberry-Cherry Pancakes mix-in-a-jar. I treated the family to Holiday Chocolate Candy Oatmeal Bars.

 Some of My (Healthier) Gifts-in-a-Jar

In December I flew to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for a vacation and visit with relatives. I am not kidding, Aunt Jean (84 years young) and I went out to eat every day! Some of the time I ate salads, and I ate fruit for breakfast and drank juice spiced with healthy organic green powder, but I enjoyed many delicious cooked foods and desserts in moderation. After all, I was on vacation and went to several Christmas parties! I did no exercise routines, but we did do a bit of trekking around museums, gardens, and to plays and productions.

Though I'm a raw foods enthusiast, I am not following an all raw diet by any means—I am supplementing with healthy raw foods, making some interesting raw recipes here and there (I have some favorites) and doing the best I can to choose healthier, high-nutrient whole foods for healthy living.

So, how is my health these days? 

I had one of the worst migraines I've ever had while in Florida my 2nd day there. I went out to eat with my brother Tim and his family, knowing that I was not going to be able to eat anything (my stomach told me so). Somehow, I survived the evening ;~) but I made all sorts of vows to myself to cut further, all sorts of possible offending foods out of my diet. As it already was, I do not eat cheese and most meats and have severely cut all dairy.

I found out a few months ago that I have a severe osteoarthritis in my right hip and lower back areas. This is a huge concern and I have been feeling more discomfort as a result. From what I read, arthritis can be reversed, but I'm not sure that what damage that has already occurred could be rectified. I certainly want to end the cycle of destruction and build up the damaged cartilage and bone, which means making sure I'm getting all the right nutrients (prioritizing raw juices in my diet).

Life is interesting! It's really a blessing to know such things about what is going on inside you. Those X-rays in the chiropractor's office were disheartening but yet enlightening. Like the doc told me, "Look at it this way, while your right hip is bad, your left hip will give you at least 12 good years yet." What I can't figure out is why one and not the other? Seems weird to me. Knowing what is wrong and having a remedy to work on is my blessing this year. I'm forgiving myself for bad choices in the past and all I can do, is do my best.