Go Green From the Inside out

I have finally bought myself a juicer! Yes I know I am terrifically late, but the main cause of my almighty dithering was purely down to shopping. Yuk. I really do hate shopping and after reading hundreds of different reviews and searching every juicer under the sun online (£400 will get you the best at-home-juicer. Yes, £400!)  Bearing in mind the spinach and kale bill steadily mounting up (In line with my nutritional aptitude of course), I’m glad I wasn’t persuaded to go for this option just yet. In the end, last Sunday morning, I packed the family into the car and we went juicer shopping.  I just needed to go out, pick one and buy it.  In the end I went for a simple Philips centrifugal model, which is compact, smart and easy to clean.  Yes its pretty loud and the pulp isn’t as dry as it could be, but hey, its a juicer and so far, it’s great!

Who knew that the hardest part about juicing was getting set up in the first place?

So why juice? This was another major factor in my procrastination over juicing – I have a good diet which includes plenty of vegetables, so why do I need to juice them too?  Well the reality is that we are just not eating enough of the stuff and certainly not enough of the really special stuff.  Dark green leafy vegetables are nutritional superheroes packed full of vitamins, minerals and those all important phytonutrients which are associated with protection against the big four: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. They are also rich in chlorophyll, which alkalises the blood.  When was the last time you ate half a bag of raw kale?  That is what you get from juicing – all the goodness of the veg minus only the fibre, which you replace by either hiding some of that pulp in your meals (yup!) or if your not that brave, just ensure that the rest of your diet includes plenty proper sources of fibre like legumes, wholegrains and fresh fruit and vegetables.  For me, my frothy fresh green juice has become a daily, ‘extra’ which I take first thing in the morning.  It is by no means a meal replacement or part of any fad diet to lose weight.  This is just about balancing my body and filling it with the goodness it needs to be of optimum health.  Do ensure you are prepared to sit down for a moment or two after your first cup, to savour the moment yes, but also to steady the legs – I felt an extraordinary high after drinking mine!

A couple of tips to get you started:

1. This form of ‘juicing’ refers to the extraction of nutritional goodness from beneficial, largely dark leafy greens – not that thick, sweet, fruit smoothie shake you’ve been blending (Although those are of course awesome as a treat!)

2. SOURCE YOUR GREENS RESPONSIBLY! I cannot emphasise enough, how important it is that you use homegrown, local or organic produce in your diet – particularly in your juice which is super concentrated. Go find that farm shop!

3. Kit yourself out! Blenders and food processors are great but do try to pick up a juicer, there are brilliant options available for all budgets. It doesn’t have to be professional standard – a simple model will get you started and won’t blow the budget.

4. Drink your juice right away.  Unless you have a really expensive piece of kit, the juice produced from most at-home juicers needs to be consumed within 30 minutes before it starts to spoil.

5. Have fun with it! Try swapping in different fruit and vegetables to enhance the taste and nutrition of your juice.  You will find an apple in most green juice recipes – why not try swapping for a pear?  Remember, don’t overdo it with the sweet fruits – its all about the greens!

6. Top tip from my lovely local farm shop owner; soak your greens first to hydrate them which will not only flush out those pesky minibeasts (Caterpillar, anyone?) but will optimise the amount of juice you are able to extract.

My fave green juice recipe so far:

  • About six kale leaves, soaked
  • A large handful of spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • One medium size carrot, whole
  • One apple, whole
  • 1/2 a lemon, peeled
  • A 1 inch (or less!) chunk of ginger, peeled
  • A handful of mint leaves (Or any other flavoursome fresh herb!)

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Start by juicing the greens, lemon and the ginger and then finish by pushing in the cucumber, carrot and apple. Give it a stir and pour into a clean glass to enjoy immediately!

 

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This frothy green goodness tastes surprisingly delicious!

So have I convinced you?  Are you rushing out the door as we speak on a juice-kit pilgrimage? Or are you a pro with recipes to share? Please do 🙂

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A New Path to Wellness

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, nor did I give up a vice for Lent.  It wouldn’t have been enough. I needed permanence, I needed a new path…I needed more.

Or was it actually less that I craved?  It’s all down to perspective in the end; is your glass half-full or half empty?

My eyes were opened in stunning fashion a couple of years ago when I was introduced to Dru Yoga at a local prenatal yoga class in fear of having to endure another terrifying labour ending in surgery, as I did with my first and wanting to try anything, anything to help my body through it this time.  I practised yoga weekly throughout my second and third trimester and in the end, was lucky enough to have a text-book, drug-free, natural birth.  Though I will always be skeptical about the physiological role yoga played in this experience –  I haven’t ever been able to forget about it. I have, since then sporadically kept up my yoga practice but have only recently begun to indulge in the wider ethos and lifestyle around yoga and wellness.

I never felt so alive and attuned, as when in a yoga session and the meditative phases allow my highly-strung, busy mind to slow and to clear.  The wider lifestyle, I would suggest, is all part of the same ethos; wellness. Or if you are sensitive to the term, plainly; ‘being well’.  I had already, for a number of years, been thoroughly adopting a ‘greener’ lifestyle through food and home product choices, visiting farm shops and markets as well as using British (largely) organic food companies like Abel and Cole to provide the majority of our grocery shopping.  I am an avid re-cycler and re-user and enjoy experimenting with the use of homemade cleaning products for bath and home. I have recently embraced vegetarianism again, which is something I first did as a would-be activist youth wanting to save the world, but let slip as I grew ever-more occupied by pressing societal concerns that all teens experience; like peer-pressure and conformity and commercialism. Yuk.  I let my true self go in order to conform and have it easy – eating meat was easy. Though it never did sit well with me and this time, I won’t look back.  To compliment my diet and boost my nutritional intake, I have in the past few days begun consuming ‘green juice’  (recipes, product review and experience to follow!) and am already feeling the benefits. (Yes truly!)

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I still have much to learn, and there are certain aspects of this wider lifestyle that I am yet to fully embrace.  Meditation is one of them and is something that has had a profound affect on me when in a guided session with Alison or one of my countless audio apps but I have yet to perfect meditation at home (Something to do with two very loud and demanding children perhaps?!)  The other one is positive mental attitude.  As a mother with a high-pressure job, this aspect is my nemesis but also, for the aforementioned reasons exactly, the most valuable.

Here are my personal six-steps to wellness for 2014:

1. Meditate daily – starting each day with clarity and stillness.

2. Put down the smartphone – be present!

3. Practise yoga regularly.

4. Embrace a vegan diet – indulge as much as possible in non animal-derived products.

5. Juice daily! Juicing vastly increases the amount of vitamins, nutrients and those cancer-fighting phytochemicals you can take from raw superfoods such as kale.

6. Write/read/walk/observe/reflect –  be creative and indulge in the things that make you happy!

 

What are your favourite wellness tips? Please do share any of your own super tips for a happy, healthy 2014!

 

 

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