Juice Fast – Day 4

Laura: I love to eat!  This may not come as a surprise to some, but for me I’ve definitely been thrown for a loop by such a realization.  Most of my growing up years my mother would say to me, “you’re the type of person that eats to live, not lives to eat.”   And I have believed it!  Granted, when I am hungry, I am hungry and please stand back until I get something in my belly, thank you very much.  But, I have never viewed myself as someone who loves to eat.  For the last three days my husband has said often, “I am not physically hungry, but I am mentally hungry.”  While I would say I am famished!  This juice is not cutting it!  My belly is hungry!

But today, Day 4 of the juice fast, I awoke feeling fine.  I was not unusually hungry.  We made a yummy breakfast juice – carrots, plum, apple, orange, lime, cherry and mango.  We each had about 20 ounces.  And where as the last three days I was again famished a short while later – today, I was able to wait until our midday “dinner” juice of Mean Green – kale, celery, kiwi, ginger, apple, cucumber and lemon, and feel just fine.  Proving, I think, that my body is “getting used” to this juice fast.  And I was actually able to make my children a nice dinner of spaghetti and salad and not feel that weird thing in my throat that was saying “feed me please”.

The epiphany is that I am mentally hungry, just as my husband had said.  I want to eat!!!  I took our son to the dentist office this afternoon.  The hygienist had cooking shows on the TV.  Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!  So this journey, which I thought was simply about physical health is teaching me so much more.  A greater level of compassion is what I am getting today.  Much greater compassion for those who have little or nothing by way of food.  And a sense of compassion for those who are addicted to food, which honestly, before this I had little if any sympathy towards.

Andrew: Like Laura, I too love to eat – the process of eating, the tastes, textures, etc. It’s really been an eye opener to see how much of life revolves around the next meal. This isn’t necessarily bad, but I am getting a better focus now that my meals are not something to look forward to with great excitement as they were before.

I’m not physically hungry much – here and there at most. I can overcome the mental hunger as well. The thing I am struggling with the most is the repetition of getting the juicer out, and making one of a few types of juice. It’s not that some aren’t tasty, but imagine if all you get to consume for the day is one of several juices that are more or less made from the same dozen or so ingredients! It’s like Groundhog Day around here.

I am finding that this can be helped by drinking some lemon and honey in hot water (yes, that’s okay on a juice fast) and Laura has had herbal tea. Tonight I bought some similar things to try to add some drinkable variety to our otherwise bland-beverage-based menu. Again, it’s not the veggies don’t taste great, but in a world of fat, salt, and sugar, it takes a while to retrain one’s tastebuds to appreciate the more subtle shades of dirt-like taste that are green veggies – and I love veggies! I feel so sorry for the poor saps who try this who hate veggies – man, oh man!

I’m also trying to adjust to the increase in carbs. Yes, increase! I am a protein-metabolism kind-of-guy. I love fruit, but the amount we juice in the AM is a sweetness shock for me. I hope to experiment with mixing fruit and veggies more to even things out. Thing is.. it’s hard to get my head around the idea of mixing some fruits with some veggies. And sometimes, the resulting color is between dark purple and brown  – not very appetizing!

So aside from that, I am missing my daily dose of dark chocolate, good coffee, and lastly, the feeling of food in my mouth. That’s perhaps the weirdest thing. I noticed my mouth feels strange and for some reason, I am clenching my teeth – maybe my teeth are just eager to tear into something?

Every day I have more and more respect and awe for the suckers – err… brilliant men and women… who have done this for sixty days! Wow, that’s a heroic achievement! Lord willing, we’ll make it to at least ten and perhaps more. Stay tuned!

What does juicing have to do with simple living?

Even though we’re just today starting our 10-30 day  juice fast, we’ve been juicing for quite a while now. We’ve never really blogged about it before but thought it would be fun to document our juice fast journey as we’re going along.

One might ask “what does juicing have to do with living simply?

Good question! To answer, we must look at the big picture of life, health, and wellness. It’s easily understood from anecdotal and probably statistical information that the health of the average American is in decline. True, we might be living longer, but that’s likely due to advances in pharmaceuticals and technologies that extend life for those in poor health. I don’t believe people are living longer because they’re healthier – in fact, quite the contrary.

Part of our philosophy of living simply is a desire to live with as little dependency as possible on practices, systems, and technologies that have not been present from the beginning of humanity. That doesn’t mean we do so in every case – but where we can, we do. The way our current culture obtains and uses food is one such system we are eager to reduce our dependency upon. We’ve gotten removed from some basic wisdom regarding what we eat and how we get it. We believe this has caused a massive up swing in chronic illness, disease, and prescription drug dependency. So eating poorly from a broken, industrialized food system has, in our opinion, caused a massive and expensive dependency on another industrialized medical/pharmaceutical system. Interestingly enough, there are some corporations that control both food and medicine. These large corporations are killing us for profit.

We resist these things by eating as healthy as we can. We’re not rabbits and don’t eat like them! Healthy does not mean vegetarian or vegan in our book, but eating foods that have experienced no to minimal processing and transportation. We don’t do this completely or thoroughly but have still experienced much benefit. As a biproduct of changing our diet, we’ve seen a massive decrease in our sick visits to the doctor (3 or so visits among 6 of us in the last 3+ years). So just by eating differently, we’ve reduced our dependency on the medical and pharmaceutical establishments. This has allowed us to live simpler and less expensively. For certain, our grocery bill has gone up, but ask yourself “would I rather spend money on healthy, delicious food, or expensive, perhaps harmful medicine?”.

Welp… juicing is perhaps the simplest and affordable way to “reboot” or “jumpstart” one’s health. We’re juicing and particularly juice fasting at the moment to promote health and wellness in ourselves as a way to simply maintain our health. Can you see the connection? There’s no point in trying to be simple in every other area of life if we’re slaves to drugs or ongoing medical intervention. What happens if/when those systems are not available? From what we’ve seen, nearly every course taken by those who have beat terminal illness has included juicing. We believe there’s something to this. We’ve also seen in movies like “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” that others have benefited greatly from juice fasting. So, we’re giving it a shot.

Simple living starts with the individual. First they change their mind, then their body, spirit, soul. Then that individual can go on to change their family, their friends, and their community. That’s our goal – to restore ourselves and others to simpler, healthier, and gratifying lifestyles.

If you’d like to join us, or have additional questions, please let us know! We’ll be posting another post later on today that lists what kind of juicer(s) we use and where you can get them. We’ll also start to share our “recipes” for juicing and maybe even some before and after pictures (if we get comfortable with the idea of those being on the internet!).

Happy juicing!

Let the juice fasting begin!

My husband has been asking me to add my thoughts to this blog for awhile now.  (I’m sorry, honey, that it has taken so long!)  So why now?  Well, I am about to embark on something that I never thought I would – a juice fast.  I have never fasted.  I know many followers of Jesus feel led to fast and pray at various times, but I never have.

A number of weeks ago my husband found a documentary called, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and decided that he would do the juice fast.  Every time he mentioned it to me, I would say, “Great. Go ahead.  I don’t have to do it with you, do I?”  Then I watched the movie last Sunday and when it was over, I had an unexplainable feeling that this was something the Lord would have me do.  For 10 days mind you… the guys in the film juice-fast for 60 and my husband is thinking of 30 days

Many would wonder why.  One friend I told said, “Laura, you look good, you look healthy, your coloring is good.”  Another said, “Oh no, you will waste away, the wind will blow you away.”  I am not fat.  I am not sick.  And as far as I know, I am not nearly dead.  But, do we really know?  Every person I know who has been diagnosed with cancer, was completely taken off guard!  The fact is we all have unhealthy cells in our body that the healthy cells must fight against.  And those healthy cells need the right ammunition, don’t they?  Where does the ammunition come from?  The food we eat!  And high amounts of fruits and veggies have the micro-nutrients that our bodies need.

So in an effort to cleanse my body and in the words of the movie makers, “reboot” my body, we’re doing this juice fast.  The way we ate yesterday, one would think we were going to the firing squad.  For lunch I (Laura) had three pieces of pizza, fruit and a brownie (which I normally would have declined).  For dinner I went to the trouble of making fried potatoes and Eggs Benedict – yum!

This is day one!  It is nine o’clock in the a.m.  I am hungry!  I am a little nervous.  But, mostly really excited!  I think I will start the day with the kind of juice I am used to – carrot, apple, orange and ginger.

Stayed tuned – I will be updating this daily to let you know how the day went, how I feel, etc.  (Who knows, honey, I might actually like this blog business.!)

Making your own Kombucha

What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink thought to have originated in eastern Europe or the far-east. It’s very popular in natural-health and medicine circles and for good reason!

Why would we want to drink it?
Kombucha is full or all sorts of nutrients and helpful nutrition. It contains the range of B vitamins, particularly B1, B2, B6 and B12, which give the body with energy and help process fats and proteins, and also support a healthy immune system. It’s also rich in vitamin C. This is all in addition to several organic acids that promote health and wellness and are thought to provide a detoxifying effect to the body. Wikipedia has a great article on Kombucha here.

But I heard that…
Like all natural health foods, Kombucha has its detractors. Some people have been harmed drinking Kombucha – that’s true. People are also harmed eating every food known to mankind! People get harmed when they have an allergy, don’t prepare or handle foods properly, lack moderation, or just from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Such is the case with Kombucha. We’re not willing to dismiss the claims of thousands of people throughout centuries who’ve used this stuff just because a handful of people have experience harmed from “edge cases” which all tend to be from controllable circumstances. Use common sense. Have a clean environment to prepare this stuff in. Don’t prepare it in containers that could leach chemicals, lead, etc. If it looks moldy, start over, etc. etc.

What’s all this business about Mushrooms and a SCOBY?
Komucha is a fermented beverage (mildly .5%-1.5%). Fermentation is done by a SCOBY which is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Doesn’t that just sound delightfully appetizing? It’s often called a mushroom because it looks like some sort of fungus, but in reality, it’s the above. We think it looks like a blintz that has been soaked in tea for a long time. Again, it’s not too visually appealing, but without one, you won’t make real Kombucha. Many people buy them from sources online, etc. sometimes spending a bit of cash in the process! We’re not very comfortable spending money to get one from a source we know nothing about. So we set out to make our own.

Here’s how we grew our own kombucha SCOBY:

  1. First, we rounded up a few 1 gallon glass jars. Easily appropriated from local sub shops.
  2. We purchased a few bottles of plain “GT’s Kombucha” from a local grocery store. What? They sell the “deadly” stuff? (sarcasm). It’s best to find one with lots of floaty stuff.
  3. We purchased some organic black tea. (Not Earl Gray!)
  4. We then prepared about 3 quarts of organic black tea. We used decaf, although some say you should not. The point of going organic with the tea is that you don’t know what kind of chemicals are in non-organic tea that you might not want to ferment 😉
  5. Next, we added about 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar. Some say not to use raw sugar – we did, and it’s fine.
  6. After this cooled to the 85° F range, we poured it into a 1 gallon glass jar (clean of course),
  7. We then poured in one whole bottle of the plain GT’s Kombucha,
  8. Next, we topped it off with spring water to within a half inch of the top.
  9. We then covered this with a clean cloth napkin secured with a rubber band, then stored this away from direct sunlight in a warm spot.
  10. Because the Kombucha ferments best around the 85° F range, we placed ours on top of a heating pad.

Finishing things up
Normally, Kombucha ferments in about 7-10 days. To grow a SCOBY takes longer. After about a week, we started to notice a film on top of the liquid which ultimately became our SCOBY. Our plan was to just leave it in place until it grew a SCOBY, which it did after about three weeks. By then, we thought our Kombucha tea would be no good, but it tasted just fine, so we bottled it in smaller bottles to be consumed in the next few days.

Final thoughts
Despite the fact that you’re drinking liquid that has been sitting out for  10-21 days with a bunch of yeast and bacteria floating on top, this stuff tastes pretty good! Even the kids like it, which ought to tell you something. It has a bit of a vinegar after taste, but is also sweet. It’s very much a sweet and sour drink. We serve it chilled and find it quite enjoyable in 8 oz. servings. It makes a great alternative to soda since it’s 1) a little sweet 2) it’s slightly carbonated (because of the fermentation) and 3) non-caffeinated (ours is as at least)!

So what does this have to do with simple life? Well, for one, it supports a healthy lifestyle which keeps us out of the doctor’s office. Secondly,  kombucha, like many fermented foods, is self-sustaining, meaning it’s always giving you what you need for the next batch! We like this idea because we can use simple materials to produce food that is beneficial and tastes good. So long as we can make tea, and have some sort of natural sweetener, we could make Kombucha.

We’ll post more on our Kombucha experience in the days ahead.

Kefir: The dairy “swiss army knife”

One if the things we’re interested in doing is maintaining a good variety of healthy foods, but in a way that is affordable and sustainable. At this time, due to where we live, we cannot  get a cow or goats for milk. Despite this, we still want to be able to produce simple dairy products on our own without having to depend on the market for every dairy product. We still have to purchase milk, which we get raw from a local farmer.

Enter Kefir – an ancient fermented milk drink that has been around for eons. We think that kefir is the swiss army knife of dairy for those looking to be able to use one item to produce a variety of other items. Kefir on it’s own is much like yogurt and offers all the same benefits, but in bigger doses and with less work. If kefir grains are added to fresh milk, they will ferment the milk within 24 hours. Once fermented, the resulting kefir can be left to sit for another 1-3 days during which time it will separate into curds and whey. The curds can be eaten, or further refined into “laban” which can be used as cottage and cream cheese right away. Or, salt can be added to this laban and becomes the basis for harder cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Also, kefir can be fermented to different lengths and strengths producing different tastes and usefulness.

This whole process does not require refrigeration and is a good way of getting usefulness from milk without energy use. Further, the kefir grains are constantly growing and multiplying, thus keeping the owner in a constant supply of kefir grains to eat, use, or share with others.

This is all in addition to many health benefits known to accompany kefir!

If you’re looking to add a “tool” to your simple life arsenal – particularly if you have access to a fresh supply of milk – consider kefir! You won’t be disappointed!