Juicing 101

Raw power.

I’ve blogged casually about juicing, but I think it’s time for me to get serious. If you don’t have a juicer, well, you should. I’ve seen some decent ones on amazon for as low as $65, but if you’re able to make a bigger investment, it’s totally worth it!

While I’m making suggestions, I may as well add that you ought to take some time to watch the following documentaries: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Food Matters, and the Gerson Miracle. They will change your life; at least, they changed mine. No, I’ve never been seriously overweight or sick before, but watching those films has drastically altered the way I eat and think about food, which will ultimately affect my lifelong health and longevity, not to mention the health habits of my future children. These documentaries also gave me a greater respect for the power of fruits and vegetables. Nature is truly incredible.

Ideally, everyone should start off the day with fresh green juice. It is a super-concentrated, unique source of vitamins and nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis. Most of us are deficient in some way, whether we realize it or not, and drinking a cup of green juice is the perfect and natural way to give your body the vitamins it’s lacking. You’ll find that when your body is equipped with the vitamins and nutrients it requires to function correctly, it is next to impossible to become sick. Fresh juice has magnificent healing properties and a faithful juice fast can cure numerous ailments.

I’m a big fan of eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, but it’s not everybody’s thing. For those of you who have trouble consuming the 8 – 9 recommended servings per day, juicing is a quick way to get those servings without all the chewing. It would take a good hour for me to eat all the stuff I put in my morning juice; it’s much more convenient to drink it within a matter of seconds.

The beautiful thing about juicing is that you can put practically anything through there and it will taste great…as long as you add a piece of fruit! I still can’t stomach pure green juice that doesn’t at least have a bit of apple, beet, or carrot to sweeten it. Some quick rules of thumb:

1. Always juice greens. It just doesn’t make sense to go to the trouble of juicing and not throw some greens in there. Unless you put like 4 heads of collard greens in one juice, you won’t really notice much difference in the flavor, but you’re adding tons of nutritional content. Don’t be scared, just do it.

2. Always juice celery, even if it’s just half a stalk. It helps to deliver the nutrients to your tissue.

3. Because of its high water content and mild flavor, add cucumber when juicing vegetables with strong flavors (such as the collard greens I was talking about).

4. Drink your juice right away. It starts to lose nutrients immediately, so gulp that baby down as soon as possible!

If you’re hesitant to juice random combinations of produce, here are a few “recipes”, if you will, that I use often. Remember to always wash everything very thoroughly and chop to the correct size for your juicer’s chute. A helpful hint: greens are sometimes difficult to juice, so always juice them by handfuls along with something large and dense, like a quarter of an apple, beet, carrot, and celery. If you fill the entire chute with kale, you’re likely to have issues. Oh, and don’t forget to stir!

Morning Glory
Makes 2 large servings
You can substitute any dark greens for kale. I personally like the flavor of kale and it has the greatest nutrient density.

6 cups kale, spines removed (optional; they can be bitter)
4 celery stalks
4 medium carrots
Half of one large cucumber
Half of one large beet
2 Granny Smith apples (nice and tart, but you can use any apples)
Lemon or lime, to taste

Green Explosion (ingredients shown above, photo of the juice seen at the top of this post)
Makes 2 large servings

6 cups kale
3 cups spinach
4 stalks celery
2 apples
Half of one large cucumber
Fresh basil, to taste
Fresh mint, to taste
Handful of wheatgrass

Note: One ounce of wheatgrass has the equivalent of 2.5 cups of green vegetables in nutritional value. The Green Explosion is quite a mighty elixir!

Pineapple Citrus Blast
Makes 2 servings

Half of one pineapple, peeled
1 large grapefruit, peeled
2 medium oranges, peeled
1 large apple
3 cups turnip greens (or greens of choice)
Fresh mint, to taste
Lemon or lime, to taste

There you have it, a few of the juices I enjoy regularly. I hope you enjoy them, too! I am currently nearing the end of day three of a five-day juice fast. I am doing this to clean out the junk my body has built up over the holidays and past month, which has come to my attention by way of bad skin and a couple of pounds. When my body is thoroughly cleansed, I look forward to maintaining my squeaky-clean innards with lots of great new recipes that I can’t wait to share with all of you!

Happy Juicing!

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Christmas Traditions and Fresh Spinach Dip

I don’t know about all of you, but this skinnyfat girl has been BUSY!  Holiday parties, Christmas cooking, buying presents, et cetera, et cetera…

How was your holiday?  Mine was absolutely wonderful. 

On the 24th, my hubby, sister, and I headed for Oklahoma where my mom, dad, and little brother live.  When we got there we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, as we do every year on Christmas Eve.  There is always the inevitable moment about halfway through the movie where my mom will get annoyed at all of us for quoting lines and getting into philosophical debates over certain scenes.  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, I am always beaming by the end of it.

After the movie, my siblings and I raided the fridge, well tried to anyway, it was pretty much filled with food for Christmas dinner.  This wouldn’t have been a problem if my mom hadn’t been watching us like a hawk.  We just had toast and then headed to bed.

In the morning, we had our traditional Christmas breakfast – each of our favorite sugary cereals.  It’s Fruit Loops for my sister, Reeses Puffs for my brother, the hubby has Frosted Flakes, and I have Lucky Charms.  My dad has Life cereal and then a bowl of Lucky Charms.  My mom rarely indulges, but she usually has granola or something similar.  I am responsible for this not-so-healthy tradition as I was the one who, at the tender age of about 4 or 5, convinced my mom to buy “special” cereal once a year for Christmas. 

And, of course, after breakfast there are presents.  I didn’t start this tradition, but I thoroughly approve of it.

I also approve of another tradition; one that I am implementing now.  Fresh spinach dip for Christmas, New Year’s, and mealtimes.

Fresh Spinach Dip

  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • 8 oz. package neufchatel cheese (or vegan cream cheese)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (you choose the color, I used red)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

First combine the greek yogurt and neufchatel cheese together.  You will need to either mix it with a hand mixer or blend it in your food processor or blender.  It will not work to just mix it using a wooden spoon.  Trust me, I tried.  It may have worked if the neufchatel cheese was softened (note to self for next time).

Then chop your various ingredients.

Bell pepper…

Fresh spinach (chop off stems and discard)…

Water chestnuts…

If you do not have water chestnuts…

Go to the store and buy some right now.  This is the ingredient that makes this spinach dip so special.  Just trust me on this.

Now add your garlic powder, paprika, salt and that’s it!

Now it’s time to eat!  You can serve the dip in a bowl with crackers or you can get fancy and make a bread bowl like I did.

Happy (almost) New Year, everyone!  I wish you all the wonderful and happy things that life can bring, including spinach dip.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl (New Year’s resolutions: eat lots of spinach dip, post to SkinnyfatGirls once a week)

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Okay, so by now you may have noticed that I rarely title my post by the recipe I’m making.  I like to think about it as a way to lure you in without quite knowing what you’re being lured into.  I’m just sneaky like that.  However, as you can see, I did use the name of the recipe as a title for this post.  Am I suffering from multiple personality disorder?  Well, you never know, but that’s not why I chose this title.  I have a sneaky suspicion that just the words “mint chocolate chip” combined with “cupcake” is all the creativity I need to attract you to this post.  However, if that still doesn’t do it for you, what about this?

So now that I have your attention, I’m just going to dive right in and tell you how to make these.

The Recipe

  • 2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or oat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 tablespoon oil (I used canola)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Begin by combining the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.

Then measure out 1/4 cup of the mint leaves.

You can set aside some of the prettiest mint leaves to use later to garnish the cupcakes.

Then you can measure out your fresh spinach leaves in a measuring cup, no this ingredient is not a joke and I didn’t have the idea first either.  Check out Katie’s mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Is anyone else thinking mint chocolate chip ice cream and mint chocolate cupcakes just may be the perfect pairing?

Combine the spinach, mint leaves, agave nectar, applesauce, milk, and oil in your blender and puree until there are no green specks and then mix the puree into your dry ingredients.

See how beautiful and green the batter is?

The last step, of course, is to add your chocolate chips.  I chose to melt down unsweetened baking chocolate and sweeten it with stevia and agave nectar.  I chilled the chocolate in the fridge and once it was firm, I made it into chocolate shavings.

Does this not look like the ice cream? 

Then separate the batter into your muffin tin and bake at 350 until the tops of the cupcakes are no longer wet.  Don’t overcook these, the cupcakes will be moist and perfect if you remove them when they are just barely cooked through. 

My camera doesn’t quite do these cupcakes justice, but they are absolutely divine!

The perfect frosting without powdered sugar is still a work in progress, so I won’t post the recipe to the icing in the picture (even if it does look pretty, if I do say so myself).  Until then, I recommend that you use the dark chocolate ganache I made in this recipe.  Or just eat them sans frosting, trust me they’re just as delicious solo.

You know one of the best parts about these cupcakes?  My husband doesn’t like mint and chocolate together which means that I get to keep these all to myself.  I don’t know about you, but as for me I am going to slip away into a mint chocolate heaven for awhile.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

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